Federal bankruptcy law regulates sales or transfers of real property made before bankruptcy, and other assets made during a specified time frame prior to filing for bankruptcy. This time frame is known as the look-back period.

The Look-Back Period on Sales or Transfers of Real Property Made Before Bankruptcy

In your Bankruptcy Petition, you must disclose all sales or transfers of real property made within 2 years of the date your case is filed.

Any sale or transfer of property made within the 2-year look back period will be examined by the Bankruptcy Trustee assigned to your case. You may still file for bankruptcy if you have sold or transferred property during the look-back period, though it is important to discuss the transaction with your bankruptcy attorney to explore whether it will affect your case. Even innocent and honest transfers can cause problems.

The Trustee will be looking for assets that could be seized and sold to pay back the debts you owe and instances of bankruptcy fraud. The Trustee may motion the Bankruptcy Court for permission to obtain the property. If the Court grants the Trustee’s motion, he or she will have the power to seize the property from its current owner, sell it, and use the proceeds to pay back a pro-rata share to your qualifying creditors.

Specifically, the Trustee will look for sales of property for less than the fair market value, transfers of property with no exchange of money, and evidence that the sale or transfer was done to hide or conceal assets, or for other fraudulent reasons. Selling or transferring assets before bankruptcy with the intent to hide the asset could amount to bankruptcy fraud. The criminal penalties for bankruptcy fraud are steep.

It is important to understand that all sales or transfers of real property made in the 2 years prior to filing will be scrutinized. Even if you believe the sale or transfer was innocent, it may cause problems in your case. A common scenario we see is parents who transfer a title of the property to their children in what they think of as estate planning. It is critical that you discuss any sale or transfer of real property made during the look-back period.

If you live in Savannah, GA or the surrounding areas and have questions about your debt relief options, let’s meet for a free consultation. Please reach out to us at (912) 351-9000 or contact us by filling out this simple web form.


We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Find out more about Bankruptcy in our guide: All About Bankruptcy.

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