Iowa business bankruptcy attorney | Iowa Bankruptcy Attorney - Part 2

If Chapter 7 Cannot be Filed Again, Chapter 13 May be an Option

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There are cases in which a debtor files bankruptcy more than once.

When the economy began to decline and unemployment was on the rise, those who lost their jobs faced difficult financial choices. Many people used their credit cards to pay for bills and other expenses and racked up significant debt. Many of those people are still unemployed. These individuals are candidates for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Some people find themselves in a position to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than once.  Iowa bankruptcy lawyer Kevin Ahrenholz explained that a debtor’s prior bankruptcy may create a problem in attempting to file again, depending on the filing date of the debtor’s prior bankruptcy.

While there is no limit to the number of times someone can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are limits on whether an individual can receive a bankruptcy discharge from their case. Changes made to the bankruptcy code in 2005 mean that debtors are required to wait eight years before they can receive another debt discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is important to note that the relevant date is the date that the debtor’s prior bankruptcy petition was filed. For instance, if an individual filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy on October 1, 2006, they cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy again until for eight years, until October 1, 2014. The debtors who filed in 2008, when the economy started to decline, do not yet have the opportunity to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a debt discharge. However, they may be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court-supervised debt repayment plan, during which debtors receive protection from creditors, and make monthly payments to a trustee for a period of three-to-five years. Upon the successful completion of the plan, they receive a discharge of any remaining unsecured debt. If the Chapter 13 debtor becomes eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy while their Chapter 13 case is pending, they may convert the case from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7, when the eight-year waiting period has passed..

Each debtor’s debt relief options depend upon a variety of factors and circumstances. Speak to a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney to find out what those options and considerations are, as well as how and when to take advantage of them.

Posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on If Chapter 7 Cannot be Filed Again, Chapter 13 May be an Option .
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy May Not Always Be the Best Debt Relief Plan

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not always the right solution for a debtor.

Most debtors have a long list of questions when they make an appointment with a bankruptcy lawyer. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process, and people are concerned about how the decision will affect them and their credit rating. Making the right call to a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney will put many debtors’ fears to rest, says Iowa bankruptcy attorney Kevin Ahrenholz.

Most debtors who have made the decision to seek bankruptcy protection are aware of the enormous impact it will have in their lives, and know that in order to file without errors, they need the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. When making that first appointment to discuss filing with a bankruptcy lawyer, questions to ask may include whether or not filing is feasible, how important is a credit report, how to rebuild credit later, and whether declaring bankruptcy will eliminate all outstanding bills.

Not everyone is eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Ahrenholz explained. Some debtors may need to file Chapter 13, and others may need to take care of their debt in another manner. Each case, each person and each debt profile is different and is approached that way by an experienced bankruptcy attorney. The only way to know with certainty whether bankruptcy is the best debt relief plan, and what Chapter of bankruptcy to consider filing, is to speak with a qualified bankruptcy lawyer.

Many people also think that when they declare bankruptcy that all of their debts will be erased. In some instances, this does happen. In others, some debt remains. This is another reason why it is vitally important to speak to a competent bankruptcy attorney who will help to determine whether debts are dischargeable. There are instances where some of the debt is ineligible for discharge; non-dischargeable debt includes, but is not limited to, student loans, child support, and back taxes. Criminal fines are also not dischargeable.

If a debtor’s creditors are mainly for student loans, back taxes, and/or child support, then filing for bankruptcy may not be the best debt relief plan, and there may be alternatives to pursue. In order to make an informed decision, schedule a frank discussion with a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

Posted on Thursday, November 15th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy May Not Always Be the Best Debt Relief Plan .
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It is not in your best interest to file Chapter 7 without legal advice

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Many people think they can file bankruptcy on their own, without the help of a qualified Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. This is not a wise decision.

While there are some enterprising individuals who may be able to handle filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on their own, there are far too many important legal elements and considerations that may inadvertently be overlooked. Every bankruptcy filing must adhere to a multitude of precise rules and regulations, and every debtor must meet stringent requirements and produce specific documents and information.

In the pre-filing stage, some cases require careful analysis and strategic planning to address seemingly-innocuous circumstances.  In the post-filing stage, while the case is pending, some cases must undergo additional strategic planning and negotiation.  It is extremely risky for a debtor to attempt to navigate filing and addressing these issues on their own.  One mistake may well cause the case to be dismissed.

If you are planning to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and want to ensure that you are meeting all requirements, hire a competent Iowa bankruptcy lawyer to reduce the risk of making a mistake, and to rest assured that you have chosen the most prudent method of dealing with your financial situation.  Your bankruptcy lawyer will not advise you to seek bankruptcy protection if there is another way for you to manage your financial issues.

When you first meet with a bankruptcy lawyer, you can expect to have an honest discussion about your finances. If you have questions, this is the time to ask them. Ask about the bankruptcy process, how to file, what you need to provide in terms of documentation, and what to expect once your petition has been filed with the court. Declaring bankruptcy is a decision with long-term ramifications, and your Iowa bankruptcy lawyer will explain how bankruptcy affects you and how to later rebuild your credit.

One of the main reasons Americans file Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to get their mortgage back on track. They are overwhelmed by all their debt and may be in danger of losing their home. They do not know how to prioritize their mortgage payment without frustrating other creditors attempting to collect on credit cards, medical bills, and loans. Before long, they find that they are facing pending lawsuits, or judgments have been entered, and garnishments are depleting paychecks. They quickly become unable to make utility payments, buy groceries, and put gasoline in their vehicles. Perhaps they are unemployed and have no employment prospects in sight. They fall behind and cannot catch up their payments, despite how hard they may be trying. These are the kinds of situations that typically drive people to speak to a bankruptcy lawyer.

There is no shame in filing for bankruptcy. It is called “debt relief” for a reason. Just make certain that bankruptcy is the best debt relief plan for you, and make sure it is done correctly by hiring competent counsel.

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

Posted on Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on It is not in your best interest to file Chapter 7 without legal advice .
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You May Check the Status of Your Bankruptcy Case Online

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If you have trouble finding information about the status of your bankruptcy filing, you may track your status online.

Public Access to Court Electronic Records, also referred to as PACER, provides a debtor access to the information needed to keep track of the post-filing status of his or her case. Though debtors may get information directly from your bankruptcy lawyer or via a court-appointed trustee, some debtors find it frustrating to wait for the information, as lawyers and trustees may not be able to respond immediately. With PACER, you simply need to go online to check your bankruptcy status quickly and easily.  Just visit the site at: http://www.pacer.gov/ and register for a login ID. This system offers access to bankruptcy courts across the U.S., provided you have a valid password and ID. It is easy to register: enter your name, home address, phone number, the name of your nearest living relative, and your date of birth. You will then need to authenticate your registration. To do so, use a valid credit card to finish the registration process and you will receive an assigned password. While it may seem odd to ask for a valid credit card number if the debtor has credit card debt, many individuals do still have valid cards they may use for registration purposes.

Once you have successfully registered, the password is emailed to you, or, if you did not provide an email address it will be sent to you by regular mail. PACER will bill you to view pages. The rate may vary, but typically is about ten cents per page, with a viewing limit of 30 pages. If you are searching for court transcripts, you do not have to pay the 30-page fee limit. Also, parties to a case and their lawyers may get one free copy of all e-filed documents.

Once you have your login and password, you may search the complete list of U.S. bankruptcy courts to determine which one is handling your case. Typically, the courts are separated into districts: In Iowa, select from either the Northern or Southern District. Cases filed in the eastern half of Iowa will be predominantly Northern District cases.  Cases filed in the Des Moines area and west are likely to be Southern District cases.

In order to locate information specifically about your bankruptcy case, you will need to enter your birth date, name and Social Security number. Once this information is verified by the system, all information relating to your case will be made available to you, including the current status of the bankruptcy petition.

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

Posted on Thursday, November 1st, 2012 and filed under Bankruptcy | Comments Off on You May Check the Status of Your Bankruptcy Case Online .
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Aware of Someone Fraudulently Hiding Assets While Declaring Bankruptcy? Report It.

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Perhaps you were told a story while visiting someone who had filed for bankruptcy protection. He may have mentioned to you that he was hiding a piece of property, and did not declare it when he filed. He is committing bankruptcy fraud, which is a very serious offence punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or up to 5 years in prison.  If you know that someone is fraudulently hiding assets, and they have declared bankruptcy, report that information. Reporting can be done anonymously. If you are uncertain where to report a situation such as this, call an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and ask.

The information you will need to provide if you choose to report bankruptcy fraud is the location of the Court where the person filed (which district within which State), the individual’s full name and address, and a brief note about the situation, with as much information as you have available. It is best if you can outline the kind of fraud the debtor allegedly committed, such as hiding an asset, illegally transferring an asset, or lying about owning an asset.  Rest assured it is okay for you to simply put it in your own words.  No one expects you to be familiar with legal terminology, just be as specific as possible about the incident you are reporting, and how you came to know the details of what supposedly happened. If you want to include your contact information, you may.

When your report is complete, send it to the U.S. Trustee Program at: Executive Office for U.S. Trustees Criminal Enforcement Unit 20 Massachusetts Avenue, NW Suite 8000 Washington, DC 20530. If you happen to also know the individual’s bankruptcy case number, the Trustee appreciates that as well. You may be able to find that information online, as all bankruptcy case files are readily accessible to the public.

You may also choose to report the bankruptcy fraud to the police, the national U.S. Trustee’s office, your local state field office, or the bankruptcy court. You can find telephone numbers for some of these locations on the U.S. Trustee Program’s website. Once you have given your report to the authorities, do not automatically expect a personal response. You may not ever directly hear back from them on the status of any investigation that may or may not be underway.

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

Posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Aware of Someone Fraudulently Hiding Assets While Declaring Bankruptcy? Report It. .
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It is Possible to Start Rebuilding Your Credit Rating After Bankruptcy

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Many people believe that once they have declared bankruptcy, they will never again have a “good” credit rating. This is a myth. 

A debtor’s credit rating can be hit with as much as a 100-point deduction upon filing for bankruptcy relief. However, the debtor’s credit rating does not need to stay at the same low level for the ten years that the bankruptcy will be on record. There are a number of ways the debtor can regain points and rebuild credit, even after bankruptcy. It just takes time, patience, and some effort. As incredible as it may sound, a debtor may even start to rebuild their credit rating the day after his or her bankruptcy has been discharged. A good Iowa bankruptcy lawyer may advise their client of this during their consultations. 

If you are a debtor looking to rebuild your credit score after having filed bankruptcy, the first thing you should do is to get a copy of your credit report and review it carefully. Credit reporting agencies do not always have accurate information. Even though a bankruptcy lowers your credit rating, you may find that there are other inaccurate or expired pieces of information that you may be able to have removed, and the removal of these inaccuracies will increase your credit score. If you do find errors, you should dispute them. To do so, check each credit reporting agency’s website for details on how to file a dispute. 

Even immediately after receiving your debt discharge in bankruptcy, you may apply for a new credit card. While you included most or all of your credit cards in your bankruptcy, you will likely still qualify for either a secured or unsecured credit card. The rates will be higher and the limit will be lower than before, but a new card is a good place to begin rebuilding your credit score. Stick with one or two cards, manage your purchases carefully, and don’t overspend. You want to prove that you are a responsible borrower. If you have any questions, speak to an experienced Iowa bankruptcy lawyer. 

Remember to keep your credit card balances low because your credit score keeps track of the amount of debt you are carrying, your payments, and the amount of credit available to you. It is wise to keep your debt load at about ten percent of your total available credit. Let’s say your available credit is $15,000. You would want to keep your purchases around $1,500, and promptly pay your balances in full each month. Paying your outstanding balances in full and on time is an effective strategy to increase your credit score. To stay on track, make a schedule or set reminders of when your payments are due, and be sure to pay them on time or even ahead of time. Over time your credit score will improve. It will take some time for your dedication to this method to actually reflect in your credit score, so you must remain steadfast in your efforts and focused on your goal. 

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

Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on It is Possible to Start Rebuilding Your Credit Rating After Bankruptcy .
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Forgotten Creditors Unlikely to Get Paid in Bankruptcy Process

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When filing for bankruptcy, a debtor may forget to list a creditor. This is not an ideal situation for the debtor, as they may still owe that debt after discharge.

When a debtor is filing for bankruptcy protection, they must fill out numerous documents that tell the court the names of all the creditors involved in their case, what real and personal property they own, and who their unsecured and secured creditors are and how much they are owed. The list must be complete, but occasionally a creditor is inadvertently left off the list. It is best to immediately consult with your Iowa bankruptcy lawyer to find out what to do when you discover that your creditor list is incomplete.

If the debtor has filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she is required to submit Schedules A through J to the bankruptcy court as part of their bankruptcy petition. Schedule A lists the debtor’s real property. Schedule B lists all personal property the debtor owns and Schedule C lists property exemptions.  Schedule D lists secured debts (such as mortgages or car loans), Schedule E lists unsecured priority debts (such as child support or past-due tax obligations), and Schedule F lists unsecured nonpriority debts (such as credit cards and medical bills).  In schedules D through F, debtors must list all of their creditors, and provide the following information as it pertains to each debt he or she has with each creditor: the account number used with each particular creditor; the creditor’s name and mailing address, and the amount owed to the creditor.  The bankruptcy Trustee uses Schedules D through F to ensure all creditors are recognized and paid. The remaining Schedules are G through J. If the debtor has executory contracts and/or unexpired leases, they are listed on Schedule G. If the debtor has any co-debtors, then on Schedule H the debtor must provide the name and address of each co-debtor as well as identify the shared creditor. Finally, the debtor’s monthly expenses and income are set forth on Schedules I and J.

As you can see, with all the lists, rules, and various requirements for filing for bankruptcy protection, it is possible to accidentally omit a creditor. If your case is being handled by a competent Iowa bankruptcy lawyer, he or she will attempt to ensure that your Schedules are complete and accurate by asking questions designed to help you search your memory for forgotten debts.

Once the Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been filed, it is the Trustee’s responsibility to identify and liquidate the debtor’s non-exempt property, and then notify the list of creditors set forth in your Schedules of any possible distributions. If the debtor forgets to list one of his or her creditors, then that forgotten creditor will not have the opportunity to receive a portion of any potential distribution in the case. The most important thing to note is that if the debtor forgot to list a creditor in his or her bankruptcy, and the debtor receives a discharge of his or her debts, the debt to the forgotten creditor is arguably still owed.

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

Posted on Sunday, September 30th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Forgotten Creditors Unlikely to Get Paid in Bankruptcy Process .
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Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer Says Active Duty Military May File Bankruptcy

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Bankruptcy lawyers are often asked if active duty military may file for bankruptcy. The answer is yes.

There are a lot of people who believe that active duty military personnel are not allowed to file for bankruptcy relief. “While military personnel are held to a higher standard of conduct than regular citizens, they do not have to give up the right to declare bankruptcy,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer.

Even dedicated military personnel may run out of money before they have come to the end of the month, and if this continues for a sustained period of time, the individual may need to consider filing for bankruptcy protection. It does not matter if they are in the military at the time they file, and it does not matter what Chapter of bankruptcy they elect to file. They have the same rights as all U.S. citizens when it comes to declaring bankruptcy.

Filing for bankruptcy while on active duty may have other consequences for members of the Armed Forces, such as a negative effect on security clearance and promotions. However, they are still entitled to file and have legal protection accorded to them if their duties get in the way of attending bankruptcy court hearings.

To file for bankruptcy, the service member needs to determine the appropriate state in which to file their petitoin. Federal law mandates they file their bankruptcy in the state where they have lived for the greater part of the six months prior to filing. “Since military personnel are frequently transferred, they need to check the bankruptcy filing requirements of where they currently live,” said Ahrenholz.

Military personnel must also get credit counseling within the six month period before they file, and the Department of Justice has a list of counselors on its website. While the counselors do not get involved with the bankruptcy case, they will outline the process and answer any questions. The next step is to determine which Chapter to file. The choices for personal bankruptcy are either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The Chapter is dependent on the size of the debtor’s household and whether his or her income falls above or below the median average income for that size of household in his or her state of residency.

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

Posted on Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer Says Active Duty Military May File Bankruptcy .
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You Can Stop a Bankruptcy Proceeding

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One of the questions that bankruptcy attorneys often get asked is whether the debtor is allowed to withdraw from bankruptcy proceedings. Perhaps you have already started the bankruptcy filing process by consulting an experienced Iowa bankruptcy attorney who has assisted you with filling out all the right documentation, and you’ve paid the fees and you are moving forward. 

The next step is advising your creditors that you have filed for bankruptcy, and perhaps meeting with them and attending a credit counseling session. You are eventually heading to a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing (Meeting of Creditors), and your Iowa bankruptcy lawyer advises you that you will be through the process shortly. Any second thoughts you might have had about taking this route have long since vanished. You still believe filing for bankruptcy was the only thing you could have done to get out from under your overwhelming debt load. 

Then, before you get to your hearing, you get a phone call or a letter advising you that you have just come into some money, perhaps through inheritance or the lottery. Things like that do happen, although rarely. If you suddenly and unexpectedly come into money, you are allowed to stop the bankruptcy process in its tracks. However, you are still responsible for paying off your creditors. Once you have done that, the information that you gave to your lawyer that was then once entered into the system is purged. You will not have a record of filing for bankruptcy. 

While winning the lottery might seem like a pipe dream, at least you know you do have the opportunity to withdraw from a bankruptcy proceeding should the circumstance arise.

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

Posted on Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on You Can Stop a Bankruptcy Proceeding .
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Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer Says Involuntary Bankruptcy May Be Defended

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It is possible for individuals and businesses to avoid being forced into involuntary bankruptcy.

The more debt an individual or company incurs, the higher the risk becomes that creditors will file bankruptcy against them. This is referred to as involuntary bankruptcy, and in some cases, it may be justified. In other cases, it is necessary for the debtor to defend against involuntary bankruptcy petitions in order to avoid surrendering assets or being forced to sell them.

“Individuals or businesses who find themselves in receipt of an involuntary bankruptcy petition need to reach out to a qualified lawyer for help,” said Kevin Ahrenholz, an Iowa bankruptcy attorney. If an individual or company is served with an involuntary bankruptcy petition, one of the first things that individual or company must do, aside from hiring a reputable bankruptcy lawyer, is find every record on file relating to paychecks, monthly bills, loans, mortgages and lines of credit.  These documents are required to prove the amount actually owed to each creditor, versus what may be stated in an involuntary bankruptcy petition by a creditor. It is also helpful to provide a complete overview of net income and expenses, and then break down each month’s financial activity. Bank statements can also be used as evidence of past payments to creditors.  The idea is to demonstrate to the court that the debtor’s financial picture is improving. If it can be proved that the debtor’s financial liabilities are being paid, and he or she is making an effort to pay off debts owed, this is often enough to defeat an involuntary bankruptcy petition. If a debtor is able to prove that their debt is less than $10,000, this too may – in most states – defeat an involuntary petition.

Ahrenholz stated that the debtor has 20 days within which to file any complaints that he or she has against any creditor who has filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against him or her.. When an objection is filed, the matter most often ends up in court. Once in court, the debtor can attempt to prove that the creditor merely filed the involuntary bankruptcy in order to gain favor over other creditors. The court may dismiss the petition, noting that the point of bankruptcy is to distribute assets evenly among all creditors and not just to select and prefer a few.  In the event that the debtor is unable to convince the court that the bankruptcy is unnecessary, the best way for the debtor to recover a position of control is for the debtor to work towards converting the case into a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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

Posted on Friday, August 10th, 2012 and filed under News and Press | Comments Off on Iowa Bankruptcy Lawyer Says Involuntary Bankruptcy May Be Defended .
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