Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors: A Remedy to Avoid Bankruptcy

When it comes to California contract law, ABC contracts are a well-established tool that can help individuals and entities avoid a formal bankruptcy filing. “ABC” stands for “Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors,” and the term describes a contract in which an economically troubled “Assignor” transfers control of its assets and property to an independent third party. This third party is called the “Assignee,” and they liquidate and wind-up the entity. 

How Do ABCs Work?

When a business is struggling financially without much hope of recovery, bankruptcy isn’t the only option. ABC contracts can help the entity avoid traditional or formal bankruptcy proceedings. 

These contracts work when there are significant assets that are ready to be liquidated. If the entity doesn’t have valuable assets, then an ABC contract is not typically a realistic option. However, in these circumstances where there are significant assets, the Assignor transfers all custody, control, and title to a neutral third party. 

This neutral third party navigates and facilitates the liquidation of assets and transfer of funds to the assignor’s creditors. 

Benefits of Using an ABC

There are several benefits to using an ABC. 

One of the biggest factors for most entities is avoiding Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Because ABCs are governed by state law, not federal law, struggling companies can pursue an ABC contract on their own without going through the courts. 

Working with a neutral third party can take away a lot of the stress that accompanies economic difficulties. Instead of trying to liquidate assets and transfer funds to creditors, struggling companies can pass those challenges on to the Assignee. 

Lastly, Assignors get to choose their own Assignees. That means that they are not at the mercy of the court to assign a bankruptcy trustee they don’t know or trust. When a company pursues an ABC contract, they maintain more control over process and costs. 

Going through financial difficulties can lead to feelings of helplessness and a loss of control, but this is something that you continue to have control over. 

Responsibilities of an Assignee

When the Assignor assigns property to the Assignee, that can include all corporate property, both tangible and intangible, as well as accounts, rights, and credits, including law and equity credits. 

The Assignee liquidates and sells these assets. (Note that the Assignee cannot sell the corporation or the stock.) Importantly, the corporation continues to exist during this process, even though there are no assets left by the end of the process.

The Assignee typically sells all assets without any representation or warranty. An as-is sale allows things to proceed quickly; ABCs are known for being one of the fastest ways to address significant debt issues. 

Assignees protect the assets of the estate or corporation. They are required to administer those assets fairly and in the interest of the Assignor and its creditors. 

How to Choose an Assignee

Choosing an Assignee is about finding the right third party representative. We recommend that you look for the following characteristics in your chosen Assignee:

  • Experience: Choose an Assignee who has significant experience with managing and liquidating assets for struggling businesses.
  • Reputation: These days, reputation means everything. It’s easy to find out through some searching if a potential Assignee is qualified and reputable. 
  • Knowledge: A knowledgeable Assignee will be able to answer your questions about the process and chart out likely outcomes. 

Do You Need an Assignee? 

Griswold Law regularly manages and sells business assets. We serve as court-appointed receivers as well as ABC-contracted Assignees. To learn more about ABCs and how we can help you avoid bankruptcy, reach out today.

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