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In 1994, the Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”) issued Revenue Procedure 94-45 (“Rev. 94-45”), which established guidelines applicable to liquidating trusts formed to implement a Chapter 11 plan, which are similar to the considerations applicable to a liquidating trust outside bankruptcy. 94-45 lists twelve conditions which, if met, will generally result in the issuance by the IRS of an advance determination classifying the trust as a liquidating trust under Treas. The plan, disclosure statement, and any separate trust instrument must provide for consistent valuations of the transferred property by the trustee and the creditors, and those valuations must be used for all federal income tax purposes.
If followed, these guidelines should ensure that the establishment of the trust will be treated as a transfer from the bankruptcy estate to the beneficiaries followed by a deemed transfer by the beneficiaries to the liquidating trust. Finally, a liquidating trust may lose its grantor trust status “if the liquidation is unreasonably prolonged or if the liquidation purpose becomes so obscured by business activities that the declared purpose of liquidation can be said to be lost or abandoned.” 26 CFR § 301.7701-4(d).
A trustee qualifies as a representative of the estate if a successful recover would benefit, directly or indirectly, the debtor’s the creditors that are beneficiaries of the trust. The transfer will be treated as a deemed transfer to the beneficiary-creditors followed by a deemed transfer by the beneficiary-creditors to the trust.
A liquidating trust can also be a useful tool outside of bankruptcy.
Additionally, exculpation and release provisions provide further liability protection to the liquidating trustee. As the volume of crossborder Chapter 11 cases continues to increase, liquidating trustees prosecuting estate causes of action may face more personal jurisdiction challenges.
Liquidating trusts created under bankruptcy plans often vest their trustees with authority to prosecute avoidance and related actions against the creditors and third parties. Bayard’s Bankruptcy Group has long provided services to debtors, official committees of unsecured creditors and equity holders, trustees, purchasers and lenders in bankruptcy cases.
These tasks may not justify the salaries being paid to the management team, which may wish to move on to new challenges.
These considerations may tip the scales in favor of setting up a liquidation vehicle and bringing in an administrator experienced with winding down operations.
For an entity with a complicated asset portfolio, it may make sense to transfer all assets, rights, and causes in action to a liquidating trust that can liquidate assets and investments over time, avoiding market dips and other timing concerns.