I get asked this question all the time.


Someone has been sued (or is about to be sued), and they're wondering what they can - or can't - do to protect (or "hide") their assets under New York law. Naturally, this question depends in large part on what the downside is if their efforts don't pan out, and the Court finds that they didn't transfer the money properly, i.e., it was done without "proper consideration," and in a way that was intended to frustrate the plaintiff's ability to collect the monies that they were due.


Granted, fraudulent conveyance claims in New York often aren't "slam dunks." (See, e.g., "Why Winning a Fraudulent Concealment Case in New York is So Hard"). On the other hand, while you might be tempted to think that the plaintiff would have "nothing to lose" by trying to divert funds to render themselves "judgment proof," consider this:


New York Debtor and Creditor Law §276-a specifically provides that the plaintiff can recover attorneys' fees in action or special proceeding to set aside a conveyance made with intent to defraud. In other words, in addition to recovering the monies that were wrongfully transferred, New York's statutory scheme specifically provides that the plaintiff can also recover reasonable attorneys' fees if they succeed on one of these claims.


As anyone should be able to guess, that penalty can be quite significant, as we attorneys tend to be rather expensive.