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Iowa has Homestead Exemptions Says Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer

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Generally speaking, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the trustee sells non exempt assets and pays the creditors from the sale proceeds.

“While many people think they lose everything in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this is rarely the case,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. “The fact is that bankruptcy is governed by federal law and every state has its own rules about what a person can protect from creditors. These are referred to as ‘exemptions’ and Iowa has several powerful ones, with the homestead exemption being perhaps the most powerful. Very few states have an unlimited homestead exemption, which means you can protect your home no matter how much it is worth, but Iowa is one of those states.”

While there may be limitations on the number of acres that may be retained, there is no dollar limit in a vast majority of cases. “Be aware that there are some limitations on what you can claim,” Ahrenholz said. Generally speaking, for those wanting to file bankruptcy, find out what the exemptions are in the state of residence.

Other states are not very generous with their exemptions, such as Massachusetts, South Carolina and Idaho. “In Massachusetts, the debtor can keep a house worth $300,000; in South Carolina, the house can be worth $5,000 and in Idaho, it can be worth $50,000. How do you figure all that out? It’s usually done by figuring out what the current market value of the house happens to be and then subtracting loans against it,” Ahrenholz said.

“One of the first things you should know is that since your home is typically the most valuable property you own, it will play a major role in whether or not you file for Chapter 13 or Chapter 7,” Ahrenholz said. Before deciding what route to take to file bankruptcy, the debtor has to figure out if they have anything they consider really valuable that they don’t want to lose in their state, and then discuss this with a bankruptcy lawyer.

Many states also have a list of what can be kept and what cannot. Some even have a miscellaneous category for those items that do not seem to fit in any specific category. In some states, a home’s equity is listed too. “Always ask a bankruptcy lawyer what is relevant in the State where you live. It is better to have too much information than not enough,” Ahrenholz said.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Iowa has Homestead Exemptions Says Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer .
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Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Is More Complex Than Chapter 7 States Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer

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People not eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be eligible for Chapter 13. The key lies in protecting non-exempt assets.

“With the recent changes to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (2005), it got harder for people facing a serious debt load to qualify to file for bankruptcy, because their income is above the state median. Others opt to file under Chapter 13 to protect non-exempt assets from being sold by a trustee,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer.

For people opting to file bankruptcy under Chapter 13, they need to know that the procedure is a great deal more complex than a Chapter 7. Chapter 13 takes into account a detailed evaluation of income and a person’s expenditures to figure out what would be a suitable repayment plan. Debtors with non-exempt assets who happen to have a below average income according to the state median will typically make payments over a three year period.

“If, however, their income is above the state defined median, the repayment period is over five years,” Ahrenholz said. The maximum repayment window of time allowed is five years. Certain requirements need to be dealt with prior to filing for bankruptcy.

“Before filing, the debtor get credit counseling at least 180 days before their papers are sent in, their unsecured debts must be less than $336,900 and their secured debts must not be in excess of $1,010,650. These particular figures change from time to time, largely because they are based on movements in the retail price index, Ahrenholz said.

There are some circumstances in which a debtor may not file. One of those is if they have willfully failed to put in an appearance for the court or did not comply with a court order during the last six months. The other situation in which a debtor may not file is if the bankruptcy was voluntarily dismissed after creditors went after the sale proceeds of any property they held a lien on.

“There are rules and regulations and exceptions to those rules and regulations. It’s best to ask a qualified Iowa bankruptcy lawyer what is applicable in your individual situation, as no two bankruptcies are alike,” Ahrenholz said.

Typically, to start the ball rolling for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a court where the debtor lives is served with a petition. Along with that petition there must be a schedule of liabilities and assets, a complete accounting of the person’s current salary and expenditures, a statement of financial affairs and any executor contracts or unexpired leases.

“There has to be a certificate of credit counseling too, which needs to outline a repayment plan. Wage stubs are required, as is a tax return,” Ahrenholz said.

There is more to this process and it is best to be prepared by discussing the situation and how to proceed with a dedicated and seasoned Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. “While your situation may be similar to someone else’s, the facts will vary in every case. For this reason, we take the time to walk you through what you need to know for your particular set of circumstances. If you have questions, feel free to call us for a free consultation. It’s our job to help you get your life back together again,” Ahrenholz said.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Thursday, March 17th, 2011 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Is More Complex Than Chapter 7 States Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer .
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There are Debt Solutions for People Facing Bankruptcy States Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer

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Credit seems to be easy to get to pay bills, but once that albatross gets out of control, the borrower realizes they are in deep debt with no way to get out.

“There are ways to handle debt and get control back over your life,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. “While it may seem like a daunting task, if you break it up into smaller steps, it’s often quite manageable. As always, I encourage people to contact our offices if they need help and information about filing bankruptcy and what other alternatives are open to them.”

What solutions are there out in the world of debt? Talking to creditors is one. Do this when it has become apparent that debt is a revolving door of getting nowhere fast. Most creditors do offer debt solutions that may include lower interest rates, grace periods and lower monthly payments. “You never know what is possible until you ask,” Ahrenholz said.

Stuck in a rut with no apparent way out? “Try credit counseling. There are many ways to get your budget back on track and tips and tricks to make your life easier. If you cannot afford to pay a counseling company, the other alternative is to find a non-profit organization to give you a hand with your budgeting. It’s far better than doing nothing and letting the debt load spiral out of control,” Ahrenholz said.

Another highly popular way to handle debt is to do debt consolidation. It is a favorite move for many, simply because it gets rid of fees and ends up giving the debtor a lower overall interest rate. “There are companies that do this type of work and they act on your behalf with your creditors and negotiate rates and repayment terms,” Ahrenholz said.

Not comfortable with using a consolidation service? There are free creditor-sponsored debt management plan outfits and ones that ask for payment for their services. This is a good way to help repair damaged credit. “You might also want to consider debt settlement, which means working out a lump sum payment that the creditor will consider as final payment for all that is owed. While this might sound like a super idea, doing this will really affect your credit score,” Ahrenholz said.

There is always a solution to the problem of being in debt. It is up to the debtor to find that solution and avail themselves of it and do what is in their own best interest.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Bankruptcy Fraud Is On The Rise States Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer

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Most people who file for bankruptcy do so because they have no other choice. However, bankruptcy fraud is on the increase, making courts even more suspicious of legitimate petitioners.

“Unfortunately, even though the vast majority of those who have made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy are legitimately in a financial bind, bankruptcy fraud is on the increase, something which is not good news. The more fraud there is, the less courtesy and consideration legitimate petitioners get. In other words, those really needing help are now being regarded with more suspicion,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer.

Even though a bankruptcy will dog a person’s footsteps for many years, the fact remains that the bills are paid and the financial future is a lot brighter. This one fact alone has prompted many to commit bankruptcy fraud.

“How do people commit bankruptcy fraud? Some of the methods used are quite sophisticated and difficult to track down. Typically, they hide most of their assets by either giving them to someone else during the course of the bankruptcy proceedings or will just not admit to having them,” Ahrenholz said.

The assets they do declare are then sold to pay off their debts. When the whole thing is over, they simply gather up the rest of their property and get on with their life – their new, debt free life. Obviously, this has come at the expense of someone else’s actual and real dire need to declare bankruptcy. While this is not the only method used to commit fraud, it is the most common one and the easiest to pull off.

Bankruptcy fraud hurts those who really have no other options. The fraud artists are using the system to their advantage and tying up resources that others could desperately use. If and when someone pulling an unethical and illegal stunt like this gets caught, it makes the court system regard those who file with a greater degree of suspicion. For those who are in a legitimate position to file bankruptcy, a jaundiced point of view on their petition from the courts is the last thing they need. They have already been through enough.

“If you have a legitimate need to file for bankruptcy, give my office a call and we will walk you through the process. Your first consultation with us is free. The advice will point you in the right direction for a fresh start on a new, debt free life,” Ahrenholz said.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Thursday, March 10th, 2011 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on Bankruptcy Fraud Is On The Rise States Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer .
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Bankruptcy Law Passed in 2005 Leaves Some Debtors in the Shadows

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Those who cannot afford the cost of bankruptcy wind up in a shadow economy, or informal bankruptcy situation. It is a strange state of affairs, brought on by the failing economy.

Whether you know it or not, there are people who need to file bankruptcy because they can no longer handle their debt load. They need to file for relief, but they do not have the money to pay the lawyer. They need cheap bankruptcy because today’s costs are going up exponentially, with no apparent end in sight.

Thanks to the economy and a 2005 law passed to make filing for bankruptcy even more difficult, there is a new group of debtors referred to as the unofficial bankrupt debtors; the people who are all but bankrupt but couldn’t afford the lawyer’s fee to make it official. Many of these people refer to themselves as too poor to go bankrupt. The latest figures indicate that only a small portion of those in real financial trouble can afford to file and do so. The rest languish in the shadow economy, unable to move forward with their lives and on hold financially with their hands effectively tied.

All of this begs the question: why are so many lawyer’s fees so high that people cannot afford to pay them to be able to file for bankruptcy? The hike in fees largely has to do with the law passed in 2005 that made things harder to file and added on more paperwork and forms. This increased the time a lawyer had to spend to assist a client and thus, up went the fees.

In this current economic crunch, it would make more sense for lawyers to charge smaller fees and help people get their lives back on track. There is no shortage of needy debtors who would pay a lesser fee for financial relief. It is almost bizarre to think that a debtor in desperate financial straits needs to save up to go bankrupt. Informal bankruptcy does not just impact on the person who cannot file because they cannot afford it; it affects everyone because it impacts the national economy. Delaying filing bankruptcy is like putting off going to a dentist when your tooth hurts. Wait too long and the pain is worse and there are more problems.

One solution is to file pro se, and do it yourself. This can be a fairly risky and scary option if you do not know what you are doing and what the exemptions are in your state. You could use bankruptcy petition preparers for the paperwork, but without the eagle eye of a skilled bankruptcy lawyer, this is taking a huge risk that something could be missed. Is there an answer to this dilemma?

Yes, find a seasoned bankruptcy lawyer that completely understands what you are going through and does not charge you an arm and a leg to file for bankruptcy. Find one in Iowa that has one of the lowest rates for filing you will find; one whose service is based on a compassionate understanding that filing bankruptcy is something you have a right to do when you need to do it.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Bankruptcy Law Passed in 2005 Leaves Some Debtors in the Shadows .
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Those Facing Bankruptcy Can Afford a Lawyer

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Most people facing bankruptcy can afford a lawyer’s assistance, especially in Iowa.

Not all bankruptcy lawyers have rates so high you cannot afford to pay them. There are some that have very reasonable rates and will go out of their way to help you, simply because they understand what it is like to be facing bankruptcy. They offer competent services, are dedicated to helping you through the process and have only your best interests in mind.

These days, it is not unusual to meet a lot of people who are struggling with the specter of going bankrupt; a personal decision that causes many people anxiety, guilt and shame. They feel like they are between a rock and a hard place and just want to salvage their lives and get on with things as best as they can. When they are facing a very real cash crunch where the income does not meet outgoing payments, it is time to make decisions about the future. The awful economy is a burden to many in America, with more and more getting into serious financial trouble. This raises the question of how debtors can raise cash to pay a bankruptcy lawyer’s fees.

If you do not think that things are that bad, consider this. During 2010, there were 1,572,597 bankruptcies filed across the United States. This is 20 percent higher than 2009, when the figure was 1,306,315. This is relevant because the latest figures are the highest for any period since the introduction of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005.

The idea behind this act was to make it harder and more expensive for anyone to file bankruptcy. Put another way, it tightened restrictions on filing bankruptcy. You would think filings would go down, but instead, in spite of the new law, increasing numbers of Americans are saying bankruptcy is the best option for them to solve their financial predicament and unmanageable debts.

This drastic rise in the number of bankruptcy filings is directly attributable to one factor – people losing their jobs. If you take a good look at the unemployment stats, you will notice that the U.S. still hovers at about a 10 percent unemployment rate. That is a frightening statistic on its own, but add in the fact that the economy has driven service and manufacturing jobs offshore and you get a recipe for bankruptcy. The numbers of foreclosures are creeping up every passing day. Joblessness is the number one reason cited for filing bankruptcy.

When you lose your job, you tend to lose medical coverage. If you have a medical crisis, the bills will drive you to the end of your rope. It is no wonder people choose bankruptcy as the only option to get back on their feet again. But how does a bankruptcy applicant pay their legal bill? This is a good question, as debtors are finding they cannot pay the bill to file because lawyer’s fees and filing fees have gone up and, thanks to the 2005 act, there is even more paperwork and additional forms.

While it may look dismally bleak when it comes to trying to file for bankruptcy and finding the funds to pay for the lawyer, not all lawyers charge higher fees. There are skilled and compassionate bankruptcy lawyers in Iowa who will help you get your life back.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit http://www.iowachapter7.com or call 1.877.888.1766.

Posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Those Facing Bankruptcy Can Afford a Lawyer .
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