Iowa Bankruptcy Process
I. Free Online or Telephone Consultation
Once you have spent some time on our web site and feel that you want to file bankruptcy, you can complete a Online Consultation, email or call 515-261-7526 so that we can identify any obvious disqualifiers and answer your questions. An example of a disqualifier would be if you charged or transferred several thousand dollars on your credit card just before contacting us or if your expenses are far exceeded by your income. If your case seems ok we can proceed.
II. In office appointment with Jeff / Draft Iowa Bankruptcy Petition
Once you have your fees available in cash or money order we can set your appointment. If you are filing a joint petition, we need both of you to come to the office for the first appointment. We have learned from experience that we can produce significantly better petitions if both are present for the entire appointment. During your first appointment Jeff will complete the case evaluation. If you are eligible to file Iowa Bankruptcy and want to go forward we will accept your fees. If you are not, you owe us nothing. We will not accept any case that we are not confident we can successfully guide to discharge. If Jeff cannot help you he will refer you to another attorney or in some cases to Consumer Credit of Des Moines.
Credit Counseling Certificate: Under the new law we must file your credit counseling certificate (Class #1) along with your petition. So go ahead and get your credit counseling done and bring the certificate with you to your first appointment.
Note: As long as you bring everything we need to this appointment...
- Fees in cash or money order
- Credit Counseling Certificate
- All bills you intend to discharge
- Creditor contact information (address, account #?s) on debts you will keep
- Last two months pay stubs from work (including your spouse even if they are not filing)
- W2's for the last two years
- If you do not receive wage income, bring records of other income for the last six months
- Most recent state and federal tax returns
- Legal Description of your home if you own
- Proof of valuation of your home such as tax or other appraisal if you have them
- Photo ID and Social Security Card or proof of social security number.
...you will be able to draft your entire petition with Jeff one on one and have no packet to complete or other work to do before your case is filed.
We normally schedule appointments Monday through Friday at 9:30am or 1:30pm. We also have some Saturday appointments although they tend to fill early. You should allow two hours for your appointment although we may finish more quickly if you are well organized. If you are truly obsessive and want to have everything in sequence when you sit down at Jeff's desk, here is the order in which you will need everything and how your appointment will proceed:
- Income: Check stubs from work (including your spouses stub even if they are not filing bankruptcy). Bring at least 60 days of check stubs.
- Expenses: We will ask you to tell us about all your monthly expenses; Click here for our Printable Expenses Form.
- Finish Evaluation: Once we are satisfied that your income and expenses are ok, we will finish your evaluation before accepting your fees. If you do not want to proceed at this point, you owe us nothing
- Photo ID & Social Security Card(s) (we will make copies)
- Contract: Review & sign written contract, pay & receive receipt for fees
- Bills: We will need all the bills you would like to discharge. We would prefer one copy of each credit card, medical and other bill. If you can clip collection letters behind the related bills that is even better so we can notify both. We will also need name, address, account # and approximate balance on your secured lenders (home, car etc) even if you plan to keep them. We do not need to see your regular monthly bills like utilities unless you want to discharge them, in which case you would probably have to provide a deposit.
- W2's for the last two years & Most recent state and federal tax returns
- Misc. questions, review, additions, corrections & signing of petition.
III. Filing the Iowa Bankruptcy Petition
All cases are filed electronically, usually not on the first day you come in, but normally within the next week. You do not need to do anything on the day of filing except make sure your bank balance & cash are down to $1000 or less per person. On the day after we file you can resume normal use of all bank accounts. You will get the notice of your hearing date and time in the mail within a week of the day we file your case. Your hearing will be 20-40 days after your case is filed so you will have time to arrange to be off work.
Financial Management Class- Once your case is filed you can go ahead and take your financial management class (Class #2). You will bring the certificate to me at the hearing.
IV. Iowa Bankruptcy Hearing
Your hearing will be about 20-40 days after your case is filed. You will have at least 2 weeks notice of your hearing date so you can arrange to be away from work. All hearings are held at the Federal Building at 210 Walnut, Room 783 in Des Moines. You need to bring your Financial Management Certificate, drivers license or photo ID and social security card (or proof of social security number like W2 tax form), most recent check stubs from work and most recent bank statements to the hearing. Jeff will meet with you before the hearing and give you another copy of your petition to review while you are waiting your turn. There are normally about ten hearings an hour so your hearing will be quick. However, you will not know when in that hour they will call your name, so you should pay for at least an hour of parking. You can park on a meter on the street, in the DSM Public Library parking lot (meters) or in any of the commercial parking garages on the sky walk. The Federal Building is on the sky walk and there are signs and maps up there to help you find it. Allow enough time to go through security. Leave pocket knives in the car.
The trustee is an attorney appointed by the Court to help administer your case. They have taken the place of Judges who are too busy with other matters to handle these routine hearings. The trustee will place you under oath and ask you to verify the contents of your petition. You will hear several hearings before yours is called so you will know what questions to expect. The trustee will examine your photo ID and social security number when they call your name so make sure you have those in your hand when your name is called.
V. Waiting for Discharge
After your hearing, the Court has to wait 8 weeks before they can discharge your case. This gives creditors time to object to your discharge. Objections are rare. Occasionally we get one on a client who did take large cash advances, balance transfers or charges just before filing. If any creditors do object, Jeff can tell you how to handle it.
Normally you will get your discharge in the mail around 9 weeks after your hearing. When the Clerk of Court gets really busy it can take longer. Once you are discharged your case is done and you will normally be finished with us. However, if you get any bills after discharge we would like you to e-mail, drop off or mail those in so Jeff can put a stop to them. Please do keep us in mind if you know of anyone else who needs to file Iowa bankruptcy.
Questions? Email Jeff at email@example.com.