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Jeff Mathias, Iowa Bankruptcy Attorney 4800 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 218
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Tel. 515-261-7526
Toll Free 1-800-997-1395 jeff.mathias@gmail.com

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Iowa Bankruptcy Guide:
Chapter III - The Bankruptcy Petition and Common Iowa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Mistakes

In a typical (non-bankruptcy) legal case, the plaintiff files a petition, the defendant files an answer and it's off to the races. There is discovery, perhaps some pre-trial motions, and in some cases a trial. Many more pleadings are often filed by each party and a Judge may decide how the case will turn out. Normally, you pay your attorney by the hour, writing the proverbial "blank check".

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is unique. There is no answer and normally the Judge knows nothing about your case individually unless a problem arises. In a bankruptcy case, unless a creditor, the United States Trustee or someone else files an objection to discharge or the Court dismisses your case based on a failure to cooperate, your case will normally flow through to discharge smoothly as long as it was prepared well from the start.

Elements of the Iowa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition:

  • Name, address, PO Box if you have one, social security numbers
  • It's very important to make sure these are accurate, especially your SSN
  • Real estate - including whether your intention is to keep or surrender
  • Personal property - Bank accounts, furniture & appliances, vehicles, retirement accounts etc.
  • Secured debts like home, car or furniture loans
  • Priority debt like back taxes and child support
  • Unsecured debt, even the debt you intend to keep or dispute- Credit Cards, medical, student loans, business debt etc.
  • Income - You will list all income including wages, child support, food support, social security, etc.
  • Expenses - It's important to list all your expenses so you don't create the impression you have extra income
  • Prior Income - You list all income for the past two years, plus some misc. information including on your business if you have one
  • Misc.- Payments to Creditors in the past 90 days exceeding $600, Repayments to Family in the past year, Lawsuits, Garnishments, Foreclosures, Prior Addresses during the past 2 years, Bank Accounts closed in the past year, Business Information
  • Means test information to verify eligibility - Here we list your average monthly income over the six months ending the month before filing, see US Trustee Bankruptcy Means Test Information for Iowa.
  • The petition is by far the most important document in your bankruptcy case. Most of the problems that come up in a bankruptcy case start with errors or omissions on he petition. Jeff will focus on filing a strong petition from the start so your hearing will be uneventful
  • If you file with Jeff, much of your petition can be completed before the office appointment via email

Common Iowa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Petition Mistakes:

  • Failing to list (schedule) all assets. Unlisted assets can be lost so be sure to list everything the first time. This will also allow Jeff to spot non-exempt assets early.
  • Failing to properly exempt all property (can result in loss of property). Iowa bankruptcy attorneys must know Iowa bankruptcy exemptions well. In some instances the person filing bankruptcy thinks the asset will be lost, so they don't even tell their attorney about it. However, if they had simply told their attorney about it, in many cases it would have been fine anyway, perhaps due to a loan or by using the Iowa bankruptcy wild card exemption. But they cannot keep items they did not both schedule and exempt, so some people create problems where they should not otherwise be that can result in denial of discharge.
  • Failing to schedule all debt - you may have to repay debt that is left off. We list all debt, even if it is disputed, even if we plan to keep it. You also want to list all collection agencies in addition to the original creditors. Creditors have a right to be notified of the bankruptcy, so debt that is not scheduled may not be discharged.
  • Clerical errors like incorrect name spelling or social security # or wrong address - these can cause problems with credit reporting
  • Failing to schedule all claims against others including work injury, accident claims etc.
  • Workers Comp claims are exempt under Iowa law.
  • Failing to schedule small business assets, debts or accounts receivable. In Iowa, you have a $10,000 exemption for business assets, this applies to the equity you have.

See more of Jeff's Iowa Bankruptcy Mistakes.

Under the 2005 changes in the bankruptcy code, you must also file more detailed information on your income and expenses including a means test calculation if your income exceeds the state median income for your household size.

U.S. Courts Bankruptcy Petition Forms. Jeff uses Best Case Bankruptcy Software.

American author Mark Twain spent nine years in Europe avoiding creditors of his defunct typewriter business. Twain returned to the United States in 1864 to file bankruptcy.

Des Moines, Iowa Bankruptcy Attorney Jeff Mathias. All Iowa Counties. Jeff's Twitter account.

Jeff Mathias
Iowa Bankruptcy Attorney
Statewide Practice, All 99 Iowa Counties

4800 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 218
West Des Moines, Iowa 50265
Tel. 515-261-7526
Toll Free 1-800-997-1395