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What is the Bankruptcy Lookback in California?
If you are considering filing, you have probably heard the term “bankruptcy lookback” tossed around. But what exactly is it and how does it affect you?
The bankruptcy lookback is an important factor to consider when filing for bankruptcy in California. It is important to be honest and transparent about your financial activities during the pre-petition period, as any evidence of fraud or improper behavior could impact the outcome of your case.
The Bay Area bankruptcy attorney at the Law Offices of Melanie Tavare can explain how your past transactions can affect your future bankruptcy case and helps debtors understand when it is best to file for bankruptcy to avoid allegations of fraud.
What Does the Bankruptcy Lookback Mean?
The bankruptcy lookback refers to the period of time before you file for bankruptcy that the court will review when determining your eligibility and the terms of your case. This means that the court will examine your financial transactions and activities during the lookback period to determine if you’ve engaged in any fraudulent or improper activity.
The length of the lookback period varies depending on the type of bankruptcy you are filing for and the state you are in.
The Two-Year Bankruptcy Lookback in California
In California, the bankruptcy lookback period is two years for ordinary transactions and four years for certain types of transactions, such as payments to family members.
The bankruptcy lookback period serves to prevent debtors from transferring assets, hiding funds, or engaging in other fraudulent or suspect activity in order to avoid paying creditors. For example, if you transferred a large sum of money to a family member just before filing for bankruptcy, this transaction may be subject to scrutiny under the lookback period. If the court determines that the transaction was made in bad faith or with the intent to defraud creditors, it may be deemed fraudulent and the funds may be seized for distribution to creditors.
Note: Punishment for bankruptcy fraud carries up to $250,000 in fines and/or up to five years in prison, according to the Legal Information Institute.
The Six-Month Pre-Petition Period in California
If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California, the court will review your finances for the six months leading up to your bankruptcy filing date. This is known as the pre-petition period and includes any income you have earned, debts you have accrued, and assets you have acquired during that time.
The court will be looking for any signs of fraud, such as transferring assets to avoid having them included in your bankruptcy estate, incurring debts with no intention of paying them back or taking on new lines of credit with no means of repayment. If the court finds evidence of fraud or improper activity during the lookback period, it could impact the terms of your bankruptcy, including the discharge of your debts.
The 90-Day Clawback Period in California
The U.S. Bankruptcy Code also contains the “Preferential Payment Rule,” which is commonly referred to as the clawback period in California. Under this rule, if a debtor made a payment to a creditor within 90 days before filing for bankruptcy, the creditor will generally be forced by the court to pay all the sums back into the debtor’s bankruptcy estate.
Considering Filing for Bankruptcy? Speak with a Lawyer
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and are unsure about how the lookback period could affect your case, it is best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in California. Attorney Melanie Tavare can guide you through the process and help ensure that your bankruptcy case goes as smoothly as possible. Call 510-255-4646 for a case evaluation.
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