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Immigration to Argentina

Immigration lawyer Buenos Aires Argentina attorney law firm

Support and control of immigration

Since its unification as a country, Argentine rulers intended the country to welcome immigration. Article 25 of the 1853 Constitution reads: The Federal Government will encourage European immigration, and it will not restrict, limit or burden with any taxes the entrance into Argentine territory of foreigners who come with the goal of working the land, improving the industries and teach the sciences and the arts. The Preamble of the Constitution, more generously, dictates a number of goals (justice, peace, defense, welfare and liberty) that apply “to all men in the world who wish to dwell on Argentine soil”. The Constitution incorporates, along with other influences, the thought of Juan Bautista Alberdi, who expressed his opinion on the matter in succinct terms: “to rule is to populate”. The legal and organizational precedents of today’s National Migrations Office (Dirección Nacional de Migraciones) can be found in 1825, when Rivadavia created an Immigration Commission. After the Commission was dissolved, the government of Rosas continued to allow immigration. Urquiza, under whose sponsorship the Constitution was drawn, encouraged the establishment of agricultural colonies in the Littoral (western Mesopotamia and north-eastern Pampas). The first law dealing with immigration policies was Law 817 of Immigration and Colonization, of 1876. The General Immigration Office was created in 1898, together with the Hotel de Inmigrantes (Immigrants’ Hotel), in Buenos Aires. The liberal rulers of the late 19th century saw immigration as the possibility of bringing people from supposedly more civilized, enlightened countries into a sparsely populated land, thus diminishing the influence of aboriginal elements and turning Argentina into a modern society with a dynamic economy. However, immigrants did not bring only their knowledge and skills. In 1902, a Law of Residence (Ley de Residencia) was passed, mandating the expulsion of foreigners who “compromise national security or disturb public order”, and, in 1910, a Law of Social Defense (Ley de Defensa Social) explicitly named ideologies deemed to have such effects. These laws were a reaction by the ruling elite against imported ideas such as labor unionism, anarchism and other forms of popular organization. The modern National Migrations Office was created by decree on February 4, 1949 under the Technical Secretariat of the Presidency, in order to deal with the new post-war immigration scenario. New regulations were added to the Office by Law 22439 of 1981 and a decree of 1994, but the current regulations are the Law 25871 of 2004 and the decree 616 of 2010.

Features of immigration

The majority of immigrants, since the 19th century, came from Europe, mostly from Italy and Spain. Also notable were Jewish immigrants escaping persecution, making in Argentina the highest Jewish population in Latin America, and the 7th in all the world. The total population of Argentina rose from 4 million in 1895 to 7.9 million in 1914, and to 15.8 million in 1947; during this time the country was settled by 1.5 million Spaniards and 1.4 million Italians,[citation needed] as well as Poles, Russians, French (more than 100,000 each), Germans and Austrians (also more than 100,000), Portuguese, Greek, Ukrainians, Croats, Czechs, Irish, British, Dutch, Scandinavians, and people from other European and Middle Eastern countries, prominently Syria and Lebanon. Argentine immigration records also mention immigrants from Australia, South Africa and the United States.[citation needed] All these immigratory torrents made Argentina the second country with the most immigrants, with 6.6 millions, second only to the USA with 27 millions, and ahead of countries such as Canada, Brazil, Australia, etc.[1][2] Most immigrants arrived through the port of Buenos Aires and stayed in the capital or within Buenos Aires Province, as it still happens today. In 1895, immigrants accounted for 52% of the population in the Capital, and 31% in the province of Buenos Aires (some provinces of the littoral, such as Santa Fe, had about 40%, and the Patagonian provinces about 50%). In 1914, before World War I caused many European immigrants to return to their homeland in order to join the respective armies, the overall rate of foreign-born population reached its peak, almost 30%. A significant number of immigrants settled in the countryside in the interior of the country, especially the littoral provinces, creating agricultural colonies. These included many Jews, fleeing pogroms in Europe and sponsored by Maurice de Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association; they were later termed “Jewish gauchos”. The first such Jewish colony was Moïseville (now the village of Moisés Ville). Through most of the 20th century, Argentina held one of the largest Jewish communities (near 500,000) after the USA, France, Israel and Russia, and by far the largest in Latin America (see History of the Jews in Argentina). Argentina is home to a large community from the Arab world, made up mostly of immigrants from Syria, Lebanon and Israel. Most are Christians of the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic (Maronite) Churches, with small Muslim and Jewish minorities. Many have gained prominent status in national business and politics, including former president Carlos Menem, the son of Syrian settlers from the province of La Rioja. (see Arab Argentine). The Welsh settlement of Argentina, whilst not as large as those from other countries, was nevertheless one of the largest in the planet and had an important cultural influence on the Patagonian Chubut Province. Other nationalities have also settled in particular areas of the country, such as Irish in Formosa and the Mesopotamia region, the Ukrainians in Misiones where they constitute approximately 9% of the population.[5] Well-known and culturally strong are the German-speaking communities such as those of German-descendants themselves (both those from Germany itself, and those ethnic Germans from other parts of Europe, such as Volga Germans), Austrian, and Swiss ones. Strong German-descendant populations can be found in the Mesopotamia region (especially Entre Ríos and Misiones provinces), many neighborhoods in Buenos Aires city (such as Belgrano or Palermo), the Buenos Aires Province itself (strong German settlement in Coronel Suárez, Tornquist and other areas), Córdoba (the Oktoberfest celebration in Villa General Belgrano is specially famous) and all along the Patagonian region, including important cities such as San Carlos de Bariloche (an important tourist spot near the Andes mountain chain, which was especially influenced by German settlements). Other nationalities, such as Spaniards, although they have specific localities (such as the centre of Buenos Aires), they are more uniformly present all around the country and form the general background of Argentine population today.

Legacy of immigration

Argentine popular culture, especially in the Río de la Plata basin, was heavily marked by Italian and Spanish immigration. Post-independence politicians tried to steer Argentina consistently away from identification with monarchical Spain, perceived as backward and ultraconservative, towards relatively progressive national models like those of France or the United States. Millions of poor peasants from Galicia arriving in Argentina not only did little to alter this position but also immigrated to Argentina because of it, steering clear of the United States and Britain. Italian influence is more visible. Lunfardo, the jargon enshrined in tango lyrics, is laden with Italianisms, often also found in the mainstream colloquial dialect (Rioplatense Spanish). Common dishes in the central area of the country (milanesa, fainá, polenta, pascualina) have Italian names and origins. Immigrant communities have given Buenos Aires some of its most famous landmarks, such as the Monumento de los Españoles (Monument of the Spaniards). Ukrainians, Armenians, Swiss and many others built monuments and churches at popular spots throughout the capital. Argentina celebrates Immigrant’s Day on September 4 since 1949, by a decree of the Executive Branch. The National Immigrant’s Festival is celebrated in Oberá, Misiones, during the first fortnight of September, since 1980. There are other celebrations of ethnic diversity throughout the country, such as the National Meeting and Festival of the Communities in Rosario (typically at the beginning of November). Many cities and towns in Argentina also feature monuments and memorials dedicated to immigration. There are also Immigrant’s Festivals (or Collectivities Festivals) throughout the country, for example: Bariloche, Berisso, Esperanza, Venado Tuerto, and Comodoro Rivadavia have their own Immigrant’s festivals. These festivals tend to be local, and they are not advertised or promoted nationally like the festivals in Rosario and Oberá.

Immigration in the recent times

Besides substantial immigration from neighboring countries, during the middle and late 1990s Argentina received significant numbers of people from Asian countries such as Korea (both North and South), China and Vietnam, which joined the previously existing Sino-Japanese communities in Buenos Aires. Despite the economic and financial crisis Argentina suffered at the start of the 21st century, people from all over the world continued arriving to the country, because of their immigration-friendly policy and other reasons. According to official data, between 1992 and 2003 an average 13,187 people per year immigrated legally in Argentina. The government calculates that 504,000 people entered the country during the same period, giving about 345,000 undocumented immigrants. The same source gives a plausible total figure of 750,000 undocumented immigrants currently residing in Argentina. In April 2006, the national government started the Patria Grande plan to regularize the migratory situation of undocumented immigrants. The plan attempts to ease the bureaucratic process of getting documentation and residence papers, and is aimed at citizens of Mercosur countries and its associated states (Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela). The plan came after a scandal and a wave of indignation caused by fire in a Buenos Aires sweatshop, which revealed the widespread utilization of undocumented Bolivian immigrants as cheap labor force in inhumane conditions, under a regime of virtual debt slavery.

The proven Buenos Aires – Argentina lawyer professionals at the Kier Joffe law firm have experience working with foreign clients involved in all kind of cases in Argentina. Buenos Aires Argentina attorney professionals are knowledgeable in almost all the practice areas of law, to service its international cases in Buenos Aires Argentina. International clients will have the confidence of knowing that the case is being handled by an experienced and knowledgeable Buenos Aires  lawyer in Argentina.

www.kierjoffe.com

 

Immigration Law Argentina

Immigration Law Argentina: Argentina at the forefront of immigration policy

The country’s immigration law is serving as a model for the region

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina is at the forefront of immigration policy in South America. Immigration Law Argentina

Through Law 25,871, which was issued in 2003 and considers migration a human right, the country has been promoting immigrant participation in society and fostering regional inclusion.

“It’s not the people who should be at the service of the state. It’s the state that should be at the service of the people,” said Martín A. Arias Duval, the director of the National Department of Immigration (DNM). “Therefore, all public policies are beginning to shift toward the recognition of rights.”

Two key initiatives are the Patria Grande program, which regularized the legal status of more than 200,000 foreigners between 2006 and 2010 and the creation of the DNM, which is focused on serving immigrants.

The law recognizes migration as an “essential and inalienable” right. It also provides for “equal access for immigrants and their families to the same protections, support and rights of citizens, particularly with regard to social services, public goods, education, health, justice, labor, employment and social security.”

Argentine legislation, which provides immigrants with the right to vote in municipal elections, has served as an inspiration for neighboring countries such as Brazil, which is considering a new immigration law.

“The Argentine law provides guidelines that promote not only the human rights of immigrants but also the integration between countries of the region,” said Paulo Illes, director of the Center for the Human Rights and Citizenship of Immigrants (CDHIC), which is headquartered in São Paulo. “It’s not just a law, it’s an immigration policy.”

The Argentine law is very different from the law currently on the books in Brazil, which is the Alien Statute of 1980, according to Illes.“That statute is guided by what the immigrants cannot do, such as join unions,” he added. “The Argentine immigration law is affirmative, as it’s based on the principle of promotion.”A focus on integrationThe current Argentine immigration law substituted the Videla Law, which was passed in 1981 and addressed the immigration issue from a perspective of national sovereignty and security.“At that time, even though the region’s governments collaborated with each other, there was a lot of mistrust. In fact, Argentina was about to go to war with Chile in 1978,” Duval said. “Now, we no longer analyze migratory patterns from a national security standpoint but rather in terms of integrating the immigrants into the society that is receiving them.”Communities form bonds

There are a total of 1,805,957 foreigners living in Argentina – accounting for 4.5% of the overall population – according to the most recent National Census, which was conducted in 2010.

The Paraguayan community is the fastest-growing immigrant population. Between 2001 and 2010, it experienced a 69% increase, reaching 550,713, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

“The Paraguayan community has some of the deepest roots in Argentina,” said Ezequiel Texidó, the IOM’s regional representative in Buenos Aires. “We see a lot of mixed marriages between Paraguayans and Argentines.

There are also a significant number of immigrants from Bolivia (345,272), Chile (191,147), Peru (157,514), Uruguay (116,592) and Brazil (41,330).

However, due to the economic crisis, the number of foreigners has remained stable. There was only a 0.3% increase between 2001 and 2010, according to the IOM.

An example for the region

In 2002, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile signed the Residency Agreement, which came into effect in 2009.

The agreement recognizes the right of the citizens of signatory countries to establish residency freely in the territory of other signatory countries.

The agreement was an important step toward free movement within the bloc, said Helion Povoa Neto, coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Center for Migration Studies (NIEM), at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

“These citizens receive temporary residency, which after two years can be converted into permanent residency, provided they can show ties with the country [of destination],” he said.

There was a delay in implementing the agreement because Paraguay only ratified it in 2009. Prior to that, Argentina had implemented the agreement unilaterally.

“We encourage neighboring countries to adapt their regulations to recognize Argentine immigrants and to reciprocally offer them the same rights we grant their citizens,” Duval said.

Argentina signed a bilateral agreement with Brazil, whereby any Argentine citizen can directly receive permanent residency, bypassing the period of temporary residency, and vice versa.

“We also signed an agreement with Brazil regarding the connected regions along our borders,” Duval added. “It allows an Argentine to hold residency in Argentina and work in Brazil, and vice versa, without the need to establish residency in the other country.”

These agreements strengthen the union between the two countries, Duval added.

“Easy access to legal residency even helps in the fight against human trafficking,” he said.

The proven Buenos Aires – Argentina lawyer professionals at the Kier Joffe law firm have experience working with foreign clients involved in all kind of cases in Argentina. Buenos Aires Argentina attorney professionals are knowledgeable in almost all the practice areas of law, to service its international cases in Buenos Aires Argentina. International clients will have the confidence of knowing that the case is being handled by an experienced and knowledgeable Buenos Aires  lawyer in Argentina.

www.kierjoffe.com

Argentina Abogado Sucesion Herencia y Testamento Buenos Aires

ABOGADOS SUCESIONES, HERENCIAS Y TESTAMENTOS en Buenos Aires y toda la Argentina

Clases de testamento: qué se necesita para hacerlo
Además de algunas formas muy poco utilizadas (testamento militar, marítimo, y notarial cerrado), son dos los testamentos que se pueden hacer: el ológrafo y el notarial abierto.

El testamento ológrafo: es un testamento que hace el testador por sí solo escribiéndolo de su puño y letra, con expresión del año, mes y día en que se hace. La falta de cualquiera de estos requisitos o de la firma del testador lo hace nulo. 

Este tipo de testamento presenta una serie de problemas: por un lado, la falta de asesoramiento técnico hace que sea frecuente la nulidad de estos testamentos. Por otro, suele provocar discusiones sobre la capacidad que tenía el testador al hacerlo. Además, fallecido el testador, los herederos tienen que seguir un complejo procedimiento judicial para comprobar la autenticidad del testamento y protocolizarlo lo que hace todo el proceso complicado y caro para ellos.

Por otra parte, es fácil que el testamento se pierda o que algún pariente no favorecido pudiera encontrarlo y destruirlo, siendo casi imposible para los otros herederos probar que existía. En cualquier caso, el testamento ológrafo puede resultar útil en casos excepcionales de urgencia o situaciones de riesgo. A la hora de hacer un testamento ológrafo hay que recordar que debe estar escrito en su totalidad por el testador de puño y letra, y firmado por él, y debe ponerse la fecha (año, mes y día). Las palabras tachadas, enmendadas o entre renglones las debe salvar el testador bajo su firma.

El testamento abierto notarial: es casi el único testamento que se hace hoy en día por sus enormes ventajas frente a los otros. Se trata de hacer constar la última voluntad, en escritura pública ante notario, pudiendo beneficiarse el testador de su asesoramiento y consejo, y de la seguridad de que las cláusulas del testamento estarán dentro de la legalidad. El notario informa y asesora al testador de las diversas formas en que puede disponer de sus bienes y cómo conseguir lo que quiere. Las posibilidades que ofrece el Derecho son muchas y el notario le aconsejará sobre cómo conseguirlas y podrá informarle también de las consecuencias fiscales, siempre dentro de la más estricta confidencialidad.

La intervención del notario, como experto que redacta el testamento, garantiza que se cumplen todas las formalidades legales y que el contenido del testamento sea ajustado a Derecho, especialmente que se respeten las legítimas a las que luego se hace referencia. Además, el notario se encarga de la conservación del testamento (puesto que el original queda en su poder y lo que se entrega al testador es sólo una copia) y se consigue, a través del Registro General de últimas voluntades, que se sepa cuál fue el último testamento a la muerte del testador, manteniéndose durante la vida de éste la más absoluta garantía de secreto y confidencialidad en cuanto a la existencia del testamento y en cuanto a su contenido.

Qué necesitas: basta acudir al notario con el Documento Nacional de Identidad (DNI) y explicar cómo quieres dejar el patrimonio. Según la complejidad del testamento, el notario te pedirá escrituras de tus bienes o más información. A partir de estos datos, el notario redactará el testamento por escrito y  procederá a su otorgamiento sin que, en la actualidad, se exija la intervención de más personas, ya que no es necesaria la presencia de testigos, salvo en casos determinados. Es muy sencillo, y no hace falta realizar un inventario de los bienes que tengas.

Contenido y características del testamento
En el testamento no es obligatorio decir en qué bienes se concreta la parte de cada uno de los herederos. Lo más frecuente, si se tienen hijos, es que se les nombre herederospor partes iguales, sin hacer mención alguna de los bienes, sino aplicando un porcentaje igual para todos ellos. Será después de fallecer el testador cuando los nombrados en el testamento tengan que hacer un inventario de los bienes y deudas que aquél tenía, y proceder a su reparto.

Es posible que un testador quiera atribuir a una o varias personas un bien concreto, sea un inmueble, una joya, el dinero que exista en una cuenta corriente, o cualquier otra cosa. En este caso, se realiza lo que se denomina un legado. El testador lega ese bien específico. El legado puede efectuarse a favor de los herederos forzosos -sean descendientes o ascendientes- o de otras personas o instituciones. En todo caso, deberá respetar los límites que imponen las legítimas, antes explicados.

Los legatarios -beneficiados con un legado-, únicamente reciben lo señalado por el testador, y el resto se adjudica a los herederos, que son los que adquieren todo lo que tenía el fallecido y que no haya legado especialmente, incluidas las deudas, que estarán obligados a satisfacer, en el caso de que acepten formalmente (pueden aceptar tácitamente) la herencia.

En ocasiones es conveniente nombrar a una o varias personas para que se ocupen de la herencia y protejan los bienes, fallecido el testador, y para que determinen el reparto, si se prevé que entre los herederos se van a producir roces o dificultades: se trata del albacea y del denominado contador-partidor.

Por ejemplo: un padre que designa a sus hijos como herederos, pero cree que puede haber peleas entre ellos por la herencia, y, para evitarlo, nombra a un familiar o amigo, o varios, para que sean los que repartan, sin que los hijos puedan impedirlo, salvo que todos ellos estén de acuerdo. Es una manera de salvar las dificultades, haciendo que no sean los herederos quienes repartan, sino un tercero de confianza.

Es posible nombrar tutores cuando hay hijos menores de edad, previendo el caso de que falten ambos padres.

Las disposiciones testamentarias, según las necesidades (edad de los hijos, voluntad de que no se vendan determinados bienes durante un tiempo, de que pasen a otras personas en defecto de los nombrados o después de la muerte de éstos, limitaciones, peticiones, etc.) son variadísimas, y exceden este ámbito. En estas notas únicamente se pretende ofrecer una información general, pero, siendo una cuestión tan importante y personal -en muchas ocasiones es un tema muy delicado- no dudes en acudir al notario, preguntarle las dudas y exponerle tus ideas, para que te informe de todas las posibilidades y aconsejarte según sus circunstancias particulares. Recuerda que te asesorará gratuitamente, con independencia de que decidas o no hacer el testamento.

El testamento es siempre revocable, es decir, siempre se puede cambiar; el que lo otorga  puede hacer cuando quiera otro posterior. Por otra parte, es un documento personal, no hay que entregarlo en ningún registro u oficina, y no impide al testador disponer de sus bienes, igual que si no lo hubiera hecho. Constituye, ni más ni menos, la voluntad de la persona sobre cómo han de repartirse sus bienes cuando falte, pero no afecta a su vida.

El testamento más frecuente: “Del uno para el otro, y después para los hijos”
Este testamento da la seguridad de que mientras viva cualquiera de los dos cónyuges, tendrá derecho a residir en la casa, y utilizar el patrimonio, y que cuando los dos falten, pasará a los hijos por partes iguales, incluso aunque el viudo contraiga nuevo matrimonio, porque no es propietario, sino usufructuario. Se suele denominar en el lenguaje común  ‘del uno para el otro y a falta de los dos para los hijos’, y verdaderamente es una expresión que se ajusta perfectamente a su contenido. Es tan sencillo que no es extraño que sea el modelo más utilizado por los matrimonios que acuden al notario a otorgar testamento. Cada uno de los cónyuges ha de otorgar este testamento por separado: son documentos individuales.

El caso más típico es el de un matrimonio con hijos que va a hacer testamento. La idea que suelen tener es que el viudo o viuda quede con los mayores derechos posibles, y en particular que pueda seguir disfrutando de la casa o de los bienes mientras viva, y que después pase a sus hijos por partes iguales.

La forma de hacerlo es legando cada uno y respectivamente el usufructo universal, es decir, de todo lo que tenía el fallecido, al cónyuge que sobreviva, y nombrando herederos por partes iguales a los hijos.

Así el marido o la mujer que queden viudos puedan usar y percibir las rentas y frutos del patrimonio de los dos, mientras viva, de modo que por ejemplo tiene derecho a vivir en la casa sin que los hijos puedan negarse a ello. Si existen arrendamientos, percibirá las rentas y, en general, se beneficiará de todo lo que produzcan los bienes que antes eran de los dos, pero en ningún caso podrá vender nada que sea del fallecido, sin que todos los hijos presten su consentimiento. Cuando el viudo fallezca, los hijos recibirán sin ninguna limitación la herencia de los dos padres.

El  viudo o viuda siempre podrá disponer libremente de su mitad de gananciales -después de haberse repartido los gananciales entre éste y sus hijos-, porque esa mitad no la recibe por herencia del fallecido, sino que era ya suya con anterioridad. Los efectos del testamento se circunscriben a la mitad de gananciales del fallecido, más sus bienes privativos, es decir, aquéllos que haya heredado a su vez, haya recibido por donación, o los que tuviera antes de contraer matrimonio.

Esta fórmula se complementa muy a menudo ofreciendo al viudo la alternativa de recibir, en vez del usufructo de todos los bienes, la máxima atribución posible en propiedad, que en Derecho común es un tercio. El viudo valorará, atendidas su edad y sus circunstancias, si prefiere el usufructo o concretar su porción hereditaria en bienes que sí pueda vender sin contar con sus hijos.

También es frecuente añadir la que se llama ‘cautela Socini’: si alguno de los hijos no acepta que su padre o madre viudos reciban el usufructo de todos los bienes –pues siempre pueden reclamar su legítima estricta libre de usufructo-  este hijo pierde todo lo que no sea la legítima estricta en beneficio de los demás hermanos que sí la acepten.

Qué ocurre si no se hace testamento
El primer problema que se plantea si alguien muere sin haber hecho testamento es qué sucede con su herencia. A diferencia de lo que alguna gente cree, ni se pierde la herencia, ni se la queda completamente el Estado. Lo que pasa es que en este caso, como el fallecido no ha establecido quiénes son sus herederos, será la ley la que los nombre, siguiendo un orden de parentesco.

Como en el caso del testamento, explicaremos las normas del Derecho Común, remitiendo al notario para mayor información sobre los Derechos Forales, por su complejidad y las diferencias que existen entre Comunidades Autónomas.

Quiénes son los herederos a falta de testamento

Si el fallecido tiene hijos, su herencia se divide entre todos ellos a partes iguales. 

Si alguno de los hijos ha muerto antes que el padre, hay que diferenciar:

Si este hijo tenía a su vez descendencia, les corresponde a éstos por partes iguales lo que le tocara a su padre o madre.
 Si el hijo fallecido no tenía descendencia, la herencia se divide sólo entre los hijos que estén vivos a la muerte del padre o madre.

Si el fallecido estaba casado, a su cónyuge le corresponde sólo el usufructo de un tercio de la herencia. Además, como es natural,  le corresponde la mitad de los bienes que sean gananciales, porque esos bienes son ya en vida de los dos, a partes iguales.

Si no tiene hijos, el orden es el siguiente:A sus padres, por partes iguales si viven los dos, o si sólo vive uno, todo a él. Si no hay padres pero sí abuelos o ascendientes más lejanos, a éstos. En este caso al viudo le corresponde el usufructo de la mitad de la herencia.
Si no viven sus padres ni tiene ascendientes de ningún tipo, el viudo o viuda será el único heredero.
 Si ni viven sus padres ni tiene cónyuge en el momento de su muerte: a sus hermanos e hijos de sus hermanos, y a falta de éstos a sus tíos, y si no tiene hermanos ni tíos, a sus primos carnales, sobrinos-nietos y tíos-abuelos, si le han sobrevivido. Sólo si no tiene ninguno de los parientes antes citados, en definitiva, si muere sin testamento y sin parientes, hereda el Estado.

Trámites para suplir la falta de testamento
Si no se ha hecho testamento, hay que formalizar lo que se denomina una ‘declaración de herederos’, que es un documento público que define quiénes son los parientes con derecho a la herencia según las reglas antes vistas.

Asi, heredan los descendientes, ascendientes o el cónyuge, la declaración de herederos se hace ante el notario del lugar donde tuviera el fallecido su último domicilio.

Habrá que llevar para ello una serie de documentos (DNI del fallecido, certificación de defunción, certificado del Registro de Actos de Última Voluntad, Libro de Familia, al menos) y 2 testigos, en principio, que conozcan a la familia del fallecido pero que no sean parientes. Acude al notario para que te indique exactamente qué es lo que necesitas en este caso.

Si, según la ley, los herederos son otros (hermanos, hijos de hermanos o parientes de grado más lejano), la declaración de herederos la tiene que hacer el juez, previos los trámites previstos legalmente.

Gastos de estos trámites: en el mejor de los casos (declaración de herederos ante notario y sucesión sin complicaciones) los gastos son más de 3 veces lo que cuesta hacer testamento. Si la declaración es ante el juez el coste se puede multiplicar por mucho más, si concurren gastos de mediación. Como ves, conviene otorgar testamento.  De esta forma conseguirás que tus bienes pasen a quien quieres y facilitarás mucho las cosas a tus herederos el día de mañana.

Aceptar o renunciar a una herencia

Cuando una persona fallece, sus herederos –sean quienes sean, vengan determinados por el testamento que haya otorgado aquél o por disposición legal- han de decidir si aceptan su herencia o la rechazan (es lo que se llama repudiación). La aceptación puede ser expresa o tácita. Es tácita si el heredero realiza actos o negocios que no tendría derecho a hacer si no hubiera aceptado la herencia, por ejemplo, firmar un contrato de arrendamiento de un piso que era del fallecido. Es expresa, la más habitual, si lo hace “expresamente” ante notario.

La renuncia sin embargo nunca es tácita, ha de ser expresa y en documento público (ante notario) o auténtico. Ambas, aceptación y repudiación, son irrevocables, una vez que se otorgan ya no se puede cambiar de opinión. Se es heredero o se deja de serlo con todas las consecuencias, y para siempre.

La herencia se puede aceptar de dos maneras distintas: pura y simplemente, o a beneficio de inventario.

Por la primera el heredero se compromete a pagar todas las deudas y compromisos del fallecido, respondiendo no solamente con el patrimonio de éste, sino también con el suyo y sin limitación.

Con la aceptación a beneficio de inventario, el heredero solamente responde de las deudas con lo que herede, y nunca con sus propios bienes. La regulación del expediente del beneficio de inventario en el Código Civil tiene una elevada complejidad y habitualmente obliga a ir al juzgado para desarrollarlo, por lo que es deseable una reforma en esta materia que lo simplifique y que permita un acortamiento de los plazos.

Tras aceptar la herencia hay que pagar el impuesto de sucesiones, que varía mucho entre unas autonomías y otras. La base imponible de este impuesto está integrada por el valor de los bienes heredados (activo) menos las cargas o deudas deducibles (pasivo). De modo que se paga el impuesto sólo por el valor neto del patrimonio heredado (deducidas por tanto las deudas del fallecido). El heredero que ha aceptado la herencia puede pagar el impuesto antes o después de haber pagado las deudas de su causante (hay un plazo de seis meses desde el fallecimiento para liquidar el impuesto), pero en todo caso, sólo tributará sobre la base del neto.

Partición de la herencia

Por qué y cuándo hay que hacer la partición de la herencia. Cuando fallece una persona, sus bienes, y si las tiene, sus deudas, pasan a los herederos que señale su último testamento o en defecto de éste, la ley. Pero hay que hacer una serie de trámites para saber quiénes son los herederos, y para que los bienes de la herencia a nombre del fallecido pasen a nombre de los herederos. Hasta que esto no se haga no se puede vender en escritura ninguno de los bienes del fallecido, ni normalmente se podrá sacar el dinero que haya en los bancos a nombre del fallecido.
Pasos previos a seguir.El certificado de defunción: se consigue en el Registro Civil de la localidad donde se produjo el fallecimiento (aunque sea distinto del domicilio habitual del fallecido). El Registro Civil se suele llevar en los juzgados de cada localidad o en el Ayuntamiento (Juzgado de Paz). Suele agilizar la búsqueda el presentar el Libro de Familia, y conviene pedir tres ejemplares para los distintos trámites.
El certificado del Registro de Actos de Última Voluntad: para ver si una persona ha hecho testamento, y si lo ha hecho, para conocer dónde y cuándo hizo el último. Para conseguir este documento hace falta aportar el certificado de defunción y presentar o mandar al Ministerio de Justicia un impreso que venden en los estancos. También se  puede pedir de forma telemática a través del despacho del notario.
Si hay testamento: Si del certificado anterior resulta que hay testamento, hay que pedir una copia auténtica en el despacho del notario donde se hizo (la copia que se entrega al testador no es suficiente).¿Quién puede pedir copia del testamento?: sólo las personas que según el mismo tengan algún derecho en la herencia, los herederos forzosos, o los que tendrían derecho a la herencia si no hubiera testamento.
¿Cómo?: yendo personalmente con tu DNI al despacho del notario donde se hizo el testamento, o mandando una carta con firma legitimada por otro notario. Este notario te preparará todo, e incluso te redactará la carta de petición.
Si no hay testamento: Habrá que hacer la declaración de herederos, notarial o judicial según los casos. Una vez que se tiene la copia auténtica del testamento o la declaración de herederos, y se sabe quiénes tienen derechos en la herencia y qué derechos tienen, ya se puede hacer la partición. 

Cómo hacer la partición y quiénes tienen que intervenir y firmar ante notario la escritura pública.

Supuesto normal:

Si hay testamento: todos los herederos y legatarios, así como los que tienen derecho a legítima, se les adjudique algo o no en el testamento.
Si no hay testamento: todos los que sean herederos según la declaración de herederos. En el reparto de la herencia no actúa el sistema de mayorías, sino el de unanimidad. Si uno de los interesados no está de acuerdo y no quiere firmar la escritura, no es posible formalizar una partición que podría llamarse ‘por mayoría de votos’, sino que hay acudir al juez, como veremos más adelante. 

Es frecuente que la familia esté dispersa y sea difícil reunir a todas estas personas. En este caso, tras ponerse de acuerdo sobre cómo se va a realizar la partición, se suele dar un poder notarial a otro de los herederos o a otra persona para que lo haga en su nombre.

Casos especiales: el contador-partidor.
El testador puede designar a una persona en el testamento que haga la partición. Esta persona es la encargada, dentro de la parte de la herencia que corresponde a cada heredero, de decir qué bienes se adjudican a cada cual. Su labor es muy útil, ya que si no hay acuerdo entre los herederos podrá ella realizar la partición y evitar tener que acudir al juez.

Si el fallecido estaba casado en régimen de gananciales, hará además, con el cónyuge viudo, la liquidación de la sociedad conyugal (es decir, determinará qué bienes corresponden al viudo por su mitad en esta sociedad, y cuáles son la herencia del fallecido).

Es aconsejable de todas formas, para evitar reclamaciones, que el contador-partidor consiga el acuerdo unánime de todas las personas que antes veíamos que tienen que intervenir en la partición, y que, por tanto, a la escritura de partición acudan el contador-partidor y todos ellos, pero en ningún caso este acuerdo es imprescindible. El contador-partidor puede firmar él solo la escritura de partición, salvo que el fallecido estuviera casado y tuviera patrimonio ganancial, en cuyo caso el viudo o viuda habrá también de firmar, pero no los herederos.

Cómo se hace la partición de la herencia

Actos previos: el reparto de los bienes gananciales y la colación de donaciones.

El reparto de los bienes gananciales: si los cónyuges no están casados en régimen económico de separación de bienes, los bienes que se compraron durante el matrimonio son gananciales, es decir, de los dos. Al fallecer uno de ellos, hay que determinar qué bienes se queda en propiedad el viudo y cuáles quedarán para la herencia del fallecido. Esto se suele hacer al mismo tiempo que la partición y en la misma escritura de herencia, puesto que tienen que participar las mismas personas (el viudo y los herederos).
La colación: cuando se han hecho donaciones por los padres a los hijos en vida, la ley entiende que se han hecho como anticipo de la herencia y que habrá que tenerlo en cuenta, para que esos hijos reciban de menos en la herencia el valor de lo que se les ha donado. Es decir, la ley considera que si un padre ha regalado algo a un hijo, no ha sido porque quiera mejorarle, sino porque ha querido darlo en parte de la herencia en vida, de manera que lo regalado al hijo deberá computarse para hacer los lotes entre todos ellos. Esto no obstante, la colación no se produce cuando el padre o madre dispusieron lo contrario al hacer la donación.

Una vez hecho lo anterior, se sabe qué es lo que hay en la herencia y lo que se tiene que repartir entre los herederos según la parte que tiene cada uno. Los herederos tienen que estar todos de acuerdo sobre los lotes de bienes que le corresponden a cada cual. Si el testador determinó a quién iba a parar alguno o todos los bienes, hay que respetar su voluntad.

Aunque el cuaderno particional se puede hacer de forma privada, resulta más práctico y cómodo hacer todas las operaciones anteriores en una sola escritura de partición, consiguiendo así el asesoramiento del notario. Además, el cuaderno particional firmado privadamente se eleva más adelante a escritura pública.

Falta de unanimidad entre los herederos: como antes indicamos, para formalizar la escritura es preciso que todos los interesados presten su consentimiento. Si ello no es posible, hay que acudir al juez, bien para que nombre un contador-partidor judicial, que reparta los bienes de manera obligatoria entre los herederos (solución que no siempre es posible), bien para embarcarse en un pleito sobre la materia. Ambas soluciones son caras y poco deseables, y tienen costes no únicamente económicos, sino también personales, por lo que siempre se ha de intentar un acuerdo que las evite.

Cuánto cuesta heredar: el impuesto de sucesiones
Vamos a analizar el régimen general. El criterio para la aplicación de este régimen es la residencia del que fallece durante un plazo determinado en ese territorio.

Quién paga: el impuesto lo paga cada uno de los que reciban algo en la herencia, sea por ser heredero, sea porque el fallecido le ha hecho un legado.

Cuánto se paga: La cuantía del impuesto depende de varios factores:

El valor de los bienes que reciba: la escala es progresiva, es decir, el tanto por ciento que se paga es mayor cuanto mayor es el valor de lo heredado.
El parentesco con el fallecido:cuanto más lejano es el parentesco, más elevado es el porcentaje que se paga. Además, en función del parentesco hay determinadas cantidades iniciales (que se revisan cada año) que no pagan nada. Es decir, que hay un mínimo exento que depende de la cercanía del parentesco.
El patrimonio previo del que hereda: si el que hereda tiene un importante patrimonio previo -fijado en la ley del impuesto- también le sale más caro heredar.
Hay por otra parte herencias que pagan menos impuestos, con ciertos condicionantes, como la del negocio familiar o la de la vivienda familiar si los herederos son el cónyuge y los hijos.

En qué plazo hay que pagarlo: hay que presentar la instancia para pagar el impuesto en el plazo máximo de meses desde el fallecimiento. Si pasa ese plazo, Hacienda cobra el recargo correspondiente.

La escritura pública de partición es una declaración del impuesto, basta con presentarla en la oficina de Hacienda, sin necesidad de otros documentos. Si no se hace la escritura, es una instancia privada la que hay que presentar. En el Impuesto de Sucesiones no es obligatorio hacer una autoliquidación (aunque sí está permitida), es decir, basta que el interesado presente los datos, y Hacienda lo calcula y le comunica la cantidad que hay que pagar.

Las legitimas

El testador no siempre es libre para dejar sus bienes como quiera. Existe la obligación legal de dejar algo -la legítima- a los descendientes, ascendientes y cónyuge, según los casos, denominados por ello herederos forzosos.

Quiénes son los herederos forzosos y cuánto hay que dejarles.

Los hijos y descendientes: dos tercios de la herencia. Untercio de la herencia hay que dejárselo por partes iguales a los hijos, y otro tercio (el llamado de mejora) a los hijos y nietos, pero este tercio se puede distribuir libremente entre ellos o dejárselo a uno solo de los descendientes.
Padres y ascendientes: si no se tienen hijos ni descendientes, hay que dejar un tercio de la herencia a los ascendientes que sobrevivan si concurren con el viudo, y la mitad de la herencia en otro caso. Si hay descendientes, los padres no tienen ningún derecho.
Viudo o viuda: si el testador tiene hijos o descendientes, tiene que dejarle un tercio de la herencia en usufructo. Si concurre con ascendientes sólo, tiene derecho al usufructo de la mitad de la herencia. Si no hay ni descendientes ni ascendientes, tiene derecho al usufructo de dos tercios de la herencia.

Esto es totalmente obligatorio para el testador. Sólo se puede privar a estas personas de sus derechos en casos de desheredación, regulados en el Código Civil y muy poco frecuentes en la práctica. Pero fuera de estos límites se puede dejar la herencia como se quiera.

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INSOLVENCY, REORGANIZATION AND BANKRUPTCY LAW IN ARGENTINA: AN OVERVIEW

I. Introduction and General Characteristics

A. Introduction

The current federal bankruptcy law for the Republic of Argentina (“Argentina”) may be found in law number 24,522 of the Commercial Code (the “Code”) which was enacted on July 20, 1995 and made effective December 9, 1995 following approval by the Executive branch of government.

The preceding Bankruptcy law, law number 19,551 of the Code, was enacted in 1972 and was later modified by law number 22,917 of the Code enacted in 1983. The current bankruptcy law is identical to approximately eighty (80) percent of the prior law. Therefore, doctrine and jurisprudence applying law number 19,551, as modified, may serve to interpret a large portion of the new law. Nevertheless, numerous commentaries have already been published regarding the new law, particularly with respect to its new aspects.

B. General Characteristics

By way of comparison with the prior legislation, the new law contains the following general characteristics:

1. Preservation of Structure

The new law maintains the structure of the prior legislation in the order by which various topics are presented, both generally and specifically. The new law also maintains substantially the same text as the old law in the majority of its chapters. Despite the introduction of new and important changes – including modifications in the “spirit” of certain statutory solutions to problems posed by insolvent entities – the preservation of structure and text permits better application of the new law by building on the important doctrine and jurisprudence created under the old law. This also permits better understanding by the non-specialist, who will find that an update in reviewing the new legislation can be completed in relatively short order.

2. Abandonment of the Project ProPosing to Adopt Foreign Legislation

Prior to the enactment of the new legislation, a proposal was circulated to adopt, in general terms, the bankruptcy law of the United States. The proposal ultimately failed, which, according to the author, was correct since insolvency legislation in any country should reflect the variety of cultural and environmental conditions present in the host country. Additionally, the author believes that bankruptcy laws of a given nation should fit, in “glove-like” fashion, the legal norms of the host country which nominally dictate the principles by which solvent institutions regulate themselves and which are applied to insolvent debtors. Each country therefore requires specific legislation for its own judicial institutions which are not copies of those present in other countries, while preserving the significant advantages of applying comparative law principles to analyze and create solutions.

3. Parallel Projects of the Ministry of Justice and Domestic Doctrine and

Legislation

Prior to the foregoing proposal, a commission created by the Ministry of Justice developed a study which was ultimately published.’ While many of the solutions incorporated in the new law originated from this study, the new law also preserves certain traditional doctrines and jurisprudence.

4. Argentine National Reality and Economic Momentum

Domestic political and economic conditions in existence in Argentina affected the formulation of the new law. An illustration of this phenomenon may be found in certain articles See, e.g., Alegria, “Lights and Shadows in the New Bankruptcy Law”, Enoikos, Faculty of

Economic Sciences (year 4, number 11).

II. Basic Structure of the New Law

Similar to its predecessor, the new statute is divided into four articles with the titles “General Principles”, “Reorganization (“Concurso Preventivo” and “Liquidation” (“Quiebra”).

The fourth section, due to a transcription error in the text of the statute, does not have a title and contains administrative provisions common to all of the other sections, including rules regarding professionals, procedure, small cases and transitions.

The provisions under the reorganization article of the new law are comparable to the reorganization provisions in chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. et seq.). Nevertheless, the reorganization article also follows certain traditions in Argentine law.

The publisher of the study was Abelado-Perrot, which published the text in 1993.

All terms of art used in this manuscript will be followed in parentheses by the translated original term in Spanish which will be in italics. The translator used certain discretion in translating terms used in the Argentine legal system which do not have a precise counterpart or equivalent in the U.S. legal system.

III. General PrinciPles

A. Cessation of Pavments

The fundamental concept in the commencement of a reorganization continues to be the state of cessation of payments, which originates from European law and is interpreted extensively in Argentine doctrine and jurisprudence.

B. Entities Qualifying to Reorganize

Reorganizations and liquidations may encompass the assets and liabilities of any entity in the general civil arena (including associations and foundations) and in the commercial arena. The new law expressly excludes insurance companies, administrators of retirement plans and pension funds, all of which are subject to unique treatment.

The new law includes the novelty of permitting the reorganization and the liquidation of entities in which the national, provincial or municipal state may be a party regardless of the degree of the state’s participation. A case is currently pending in which this new provision is being applied.

C. Cross Border Insolvency

The fourth article of the new law contains many of the same provisions which were present in article four of the old law. The foreign creditor may exercise its rights in reorganizations and liquidations initiated in Argentina in accordance with certain internationally recognized insolvency principles. In the event of a cross border insolvency involving a domestic liquidation in Argentina and a reorganization overseas, foreign creditors receive their distributions after Argentine domestic creditors receive their distributions.

IV. Reorganizations (“Concursos Preventivos”)

A. Generality

Reorganizations, as well as nonjudicial workouts (“concursos preventivos extrajudiciales”), are the only measures available to prevent a “straight” liquidation under Argentine law. In practice, massive or global credit refinancings have been permitted in Argentine reorganizations (“clubes de bancos”).

B. Filing. Effects of Filing and the “Apertura”

The new law imposes requirements on the debtor in both the initiation and in the period immediately following the commencement of a reorganization which is designated in Argentine jurisprudence as the “Apertura”.

The effects of the Apertura include the administration of the debtor’ s affairs by management with certain restrictions and the supervision of a trustee. If certain acts are imposed contrary to certain legal requirements, management can lose administrative control over the debtor during the course of the reorganization. The Apertura serves to stay or suspend activity against the debtor by interested parties, it permits the debtor to resolve certain pending contracts and it retains certain important effects over pending litigation. The new law also acts to suspend collective bargaining agreements with labor unions over a three (3) year period, applying only general labor law. The new law also contemplates the creation of an interim collective bargaining agreement (“convenio colectivo de crisis”) which is followed until the reorganization plan (“propuesta de acuerdo”) is implemented.

C. Duration the Course of the Reorganization

Once the judge initiates the reorganization, certain rulings and letters to creditors are issued. The new law includes new provisions which permit the debtor to remove itself from the reorganization, provided that a certain majority of creditors agree with the debtor’s removal. This alternative does not require the proposal of a plan of reorganization.

Creditors have a certain period time within which to prove or verify their claims to the trustee or the judge. The verification process is complete upon the entry of a judicial ruling which verifies the claim, or which alternatively finds that the claim is admissible or inadmissible. Creditors with verified claims which have not been reviewed by the debtor or the trustee will have the advantage of resolution by adjudication. However, creditors with admissible claims by judicial ruling but which have also been reviewed by the debtor or the trustee are the onlv creditors whose claims will be counted for voting purposes in connection with a plan of reorganization.

D. General Information. Process and Voting

The trustee presents a general report (“inforrne general”) regarding the background of the debtor and any activity during the course of the reorganization.

The new law contains certain important modifications to the plan of reorganization and the voting process:

(i) Differentiation of voting creditors by classifying creditors and creditor groups in the plan. The classification is proposed by the debtor but is resolved by the judge prior to voting;

(ii) Designation by the judge of an interim creditors’ committee, the composition of which is determined by plan classes;

4

(iii) An exclusive period which varies from thirty (30) to sixty (60) days commencing from the date on which the judge creates the voting classes, during which a debtor has the exclusive right to propose a plan and obtain creditor approval;

(iv) Broad latitude in making plan proposals involving any solution which may be legally implemented (such as amortization payments, refinancings, asset transfers, etc.);

(v) A requirement that the debtor propose, at a minimum, treatment for unsecured creditor classes; however, the debtor may also incorporate agreements involving secured creditor classes;

(vi) Plan voting by written and certified (by judicial or administrative notary) ballot submitted by the voting creditors. This modification is particularly significant since, under the old law, plan voting was accomplished by a special creditors’ committee (“junta de acreedores”) which is no longer in existence;

(vii) Following the expiration of the exclusive period, alternative plans may be proposed by creditors or third parties for certain types of debtor entities, namely limited liability companies (“sociedades de responsablidades limitadas”), cooperatives (“cooperativas”) or entities in which the government retains an interest. In contrast to the U.S. system, the debtor cannot make a competing proposal since the expiration of the debtor’s exclusive period in effect creates another exclusive period in favor of third party creditors. Under Argentine law and in stark contrast to U.S. Iaw, the judge does not have the authority to impose a plan on any class of creditors by means of a “cramdown”, nor do shareholders or partners comprise a separate creditor class. Another unique and controversial feature of Argentine insolvency law is a doctrine establishing that the first plan proposal to be approved by sufficient votes will be confirmed by the court regardless of the merits of a competing plan proposal which may be submitted for approval after the first plan. The plan obtaining the majority vote may request valuation of the debtor’s assets by the judge in a complex and lengthy proceeding. In practice, most confirmed plans are proposed by the debtor itself; and

(viii) The judge then confirms the plan which has either been proposed first by the debtor during its exclusive period or later by a creditor or a third party in the subsequent exclusive period. In order for the judge to confirm the plan, the requisite majority votes must exist. The old law contained a provision which has been repealed permitting a judge to reject plan confirmation, even with the requisite vote, when the plan was against the “general interest”. A new provision under the new law permits the judge to declare the completion of the reorganization following confirmation and the completion of immediate plan requirements. The trustee may therefore exit the case at an earlier stage than under the old law, which required the trustee ‘ s involvement until all plan provisions had been implemented. However, the new law also perrnits the judge to rule that the plan provisions have been satisfied and completed (“el cumplimiento del acuerdo”) through a special ruling entered when all plan provisions have been met.

E. Group Reorganization Cases

A significant development under the new law which was promoted by the project study sponsored by the Ministry of Justice involves one reorganization proceeding of various entities collectively joined in an economic group. In order for such a proceeding to be initiated, a single judge and one trustee must retain jurisdiction over all of the proposed entities in a given economic group. Despite this requirement, the new law permits that a plan be submitted individually for each entity in the group or collectively by the entire group. If an individual plan is not consummated, only the one entity which submitted the defaulted plan will be liquidated, whereas a default under the collective plan will result in the liquidation of all of the members of the group.

F. Noniudicial Workouts

Another feature under the new law is the separate treatment of nonjudicial workouts. Generally, Argentine law has provided for nonjudicial workouts (“acuerdos preconcursales”) consisting of private agreements between a debtor and all or certain of its creditors. These provisions responded to the practice of implementing nonjudicial workouts through “clubes de bancos”, and permitted certain reasonable assurances for creditors, particularly in the event of subsequent liquidation.

The current nonjudicial workout provisions under the new law implement a new procedure which is ironically judicial in nature. This procedure serves to legitimize a workout agreement by insuring that it contains certain basic provisions and by subjecting the parties to a brief proceeding. Under the new law, the workout agreement only binds the creditors which executed the agreement. Furthermore, once the agreement has been approved by the judge, it may not be collaterally attacked by preexisting or future creditors in the event that the debtor subsequently liquidates.

Significantly, the new law does not specify whether nonjudicial workouts which are not subjected to this procedure are valid and enforceable. For example, the validity of a partial or complete debt refinancing is unclear under these new provisions.

V. Liquidations (“Ouiebras”)

A. Generality

Unlike the numerous changes in the reorganization article, the new law provides fewer novel provisions with regard to liquidations. The liquidation article will therefore be summarized with brevity.

B. Declaration of a Liquidation

A judge will enter an order and thereby initiate a liquidation upon the request of a debtor or a creditor or following a default or nullification of a plan in a reorganization proceeding or nonjudicial workout. The petition filed by the creditor is processed very quickly and in many cases is used to collect accounts receivable or other debts.

C. Conversion to a Reorganization (“Conversion”)

This new procedure replaces the prior procedure under the old law, denominated the “acuerdo resolutorio”, by which an agreement was obtained following the judicial initiation of a liquidation as a means to resolve the state of liquidation. This procedure permits the debtor to require the judge to convert a liquidation proceeding to a reorganization proceeding. This may occur quickly but will not be permitted in the event that a default occurred in an agreement arising from a nonjudicial workout.

D. Effect of a Liquidation

The new law contemplates a large number of effects resulting from the initiation of a liquidation proceeding, some of which will be listed below:

(i) The debtor, its owners and management are prohibited from conducting their business from the date of the judicial declaration for a period of at least one (1) year. This restriction also applies to prior management who were active during the statutory lookback period (“periodo de sospecha”) which is described below. The prohibition period may be reduced by the judge in the event that no evidence of criminal activity exists. On the other hand, this period may be extended or even reestablished if the debtor or its management are subject to a criminal action;

(ii) The debtor is divested (“desapoderado”) of its assets which are administered and eventually disposed by the trustee in accordance with procedures set forth in the new law;

(iii) The new law establishes a lookback period (“periodo de sospecha”) extending prior to the initiation of the liquidation proceeding and which commences on the date on which the debtor ceased paying its obligations. This period may not extend beyond two (2) years prior to either (a) the date of initiation of the liquidation or (b) the date in which the nonjudicial workout agreement is presented, whichever is applicable. In exceptional cases, such as conveyances for no consideration or payments in anticipation of indebtedness, the actions by the debtor during the lookback period may be void ab initio (“ineficaces de pleno derecho”). Remaining actions by the debtor during this period are voidable (“revocables”) if the party with which the debtor performed the act had knowledge that the debtor had ceased paying its obligations. These voidable transactions require a judicial determination which is usually initiated by the trustee but which in certain instances may be initiated by the creditors;

(iv) The new law contains general provisions (“efectos generales”) generally consisting of claims verification by all of the creditors, the suspension of the transfer of assets (with the exception of collateral pledged to secured creditors), the consolidation of all pending litigation into the liquidation proceeding and other matters; and

(v) A special chapter in the new law addresses contractual issues which are pending at the time of bankruptcy which are primarily resolved by application of traditional norms under Argentine law.

E. Extension of the Liquidation Proceedings to Nondebtors

Since 1972, under certain circumstances outside nondebtor entities may be subject to a liquidation proceeding in Argentina. The extension of a liquidation proceeding automatically occurs, without any limitations, to the partners of a liquidating commercial entity. Individuals or corporate entities may also be subject to a liquidation proceeding by “piercing the corporate veil” (“sociedad pantalla”) under which parties abused their control of the corporate entity or transferred title of the debtor’s assets.

F. Other Responsible Parties

The new law provides that fraudulent activity non-debtor parties, including partners, owners or management of the debtor, will result in liability for these parties and their being subject to the bankruptcy proceeding.

G. Elimination of Conduct Evaluation (“Calificacion de Condllcta”)

The new law eliminates the conduct evaluation provisions of the old law which had been criticized for their lack of efficiency. The drafters of the new law recognized the redundancy of keeping the conduct evaluation provisions given the liability provisions for fraudulent and negligent activity under the new law which are described above.

H. Other Matters

The liquidation article in the new law also includes provisions regarding the following:

(i) The administration and sale of assets (which must be initiated four (4) months from the initiation of the liquidation). Under exceptional circumstances, a business may continue to operate after the filing;

(ii) The distribution of proceeds to creditors;

(iii) The conclusion of the liquidation proceeding by agreement among the creditors or by satisfaction of claims in full; and

(iv) Closure of the proceeding due to final distributions having been made or the liquidation of all of the debtor’s assets.

VI. Common Provisions (“Disposiciones Comunes”)

The unnamed Article IV in the new law corresponds to the same article under the old law with the title “Dispociones Comunes”.

A. Priorities

Priorities under the new law are genera]ly the same as under the former bankruptcy law in Argentina. Subordinated loans are recognized under the new law.

B. Trustees and Professionals in Bankruptcv Cases

1. Trustees

The trustee provisions in the old law have been preserved, with certain minor modifications, under the new law. Trustees in Argentina consist primarily of certified public accountants. The new law contains new provisions regarding the creation of two lists which include (i) List A, comprised of firms which serve in large, complex reorganizations and liquidations and (ii) List B, comprised of independent professionals who serve in the remaining cases. The trustees serve on each list for a period of four (4) years and the trustees are designated by each judge by drawing lots.

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2. Other Professionals

Other professionals who participate in the Argentine bankruptcy process include:

(i) Administrators (“coadminstradores”‘) who serve by judicial appointment and generally have a business degree or experience relating to the debtor’s business;

(ii) Creditors’ Committees are appointed. although the role of these committees is controversial partially due to their mandatory appointment in the process;

(iii) Liquidators serve to liquidate the debtor’s assets and may include auctioneers, banks, investment banks or other specialized professionals; and

(iv) Appraisers calculate the value of the debtor’s assets which comprise the bankruptcy estate.

3. Compensation

The new law has substantially reduced professional compensation in bankruptcy cases. Generally, compensation has been reduced by fifty (50) percent.

C. Procedural Rules

Since this is a federal law which is applied nationally in Argentina, the procedural rules have similar universal application through the country.

D. Small Business Reoroanizations and Liquidations

The new law contains two articles addressing small business reorganizations and

liquidations. In order to qualify for special treatment, the debtor must have one of the following characteristics: (i) liabilities totaling less than $100,000; (ii) no more than twenty (20) unsecured creditors; or (iii) no more than twenty (20) employees. In any event, the “simplification” of the proceedings described in the article for these small cases do not appear to be sufficient.

E Special Aspects of the New Law

1. “Cramdown”

Since no parallel laws were distinctly used as a guideline for the new law, certain practical problems exist in its application. One dilemma involves the valuation issues addressed by a judge when confronted with a “cramdown” scenario in a plan of reorganization to be imposed upon opposing creditors. These classic valuation problems may be manifested by overly optimistic values attributed to a debtor’s assets or by depressed values which do not reflect such assets as intangibles.

2. Creditors’ Committees

As discussed, the new contains numerous imprecise provisions, among them a requirement of the creation of three (3) separate creditors’ committees during the course of a reorganization. In practice, these committees are not effective or have very limited effects.

3. Small Business Reorganizations

In practice, the vast majority of reorganization cases in Argentina involve small debtors. The old law, and in part the new law, require long and convoluted reorganization proceedings which are inefficient economically and occupy substantial amounts of judicial and professional resources. A consensus exists in the professional community to greatly simplify these proceedings in order to avoid protracted resolution and great expense. The study sponsored by the Ministry of Justice contained a more comprehensive and efficient proposal than that which was ultimately enacted under the new law.

4. Time Issues

The application of the new law in reorganizations and liquidations, particularly immediately following enactment, is resulting in numerous conflicts which protract the proceedings and foster insecurity and slowness which are contrary to the goals of this legislation.

5. VotinsJ System and “Cartas Poder

The old law in Argentina provided for a simple document, the “carta poder”, which was used in voting for or against plans of reorganization. The new law omits this provision, thereby creating numerous difficulties and increasing costs, particularly in nonjudicial workouts.

6. Restrictions on Business Activitv

While the elimination of the “calificacion” system for evaluating fraudulent activity can be viewed as a positive development, its substitution by a doctrine of automatic restrictions on any business activity for the debtor and its management may be considered unjust and draconian since the duration of these restrictions may be indefinite if criminal litigation is pending.

7. Liquidation of Assets

The new law provides for a brief period during which assets are to be liquidated.

The author agrees with this concept but also believes that a more streamlined procedure with greater judicial powers should be implemented in order to further expedite asset liquidation.

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8. Refinancings and Private Agreements

The lack of any provisions in the new law regarding refinancings and nonjudicial workouts which are not judicially ratified – and the excessive costs and formalities associated with the nonjudicial workout provisions under the new law – both generate uncertainty when business refinancings or restructurings occur in practice.

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INSOLVENCY, REORGANIZATION AND  BANKRUPTCY LAW IN ARGENTINA: AN OVERVIEW

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