Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
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I lost everything because of a natural disaster. Will it help me to file bankruptcy?
- Bankruptcy can help when you have property to protect and a lot of debt that is past-due. Before filing bankruptcy, look hard at other ways to solve your problems. Call your creditors to see if they are giving extra time to people affected by the natural disaster. Look into consumer credit counseling. You may be able to work out a repayment agreement.
- Try to wait until you have income coming in before filing bankruptcy.
- If you have enough new income, you can take advantage of the fresh start bankruptcy gives you. If you don't have enough new income, you get out of one hole just to fall into another.
- You may need to file bankruptcy if you have to stop a lawsuit, garnishment, foreclosure eviction or revocation of a driver's license.
Where can I file for bankruptcy?
- You usually have to file in district where you live. Iowa is broken up into the Northern and Southern Districts. Go to http://www.ianb.uscourts.gov/publicweb/?q=court-division-map to find out which district you are in.
Is it harder for me to file for bankruptcy?
- The Bankruptcy Reform Act places certain restrictions on how a person can file for bankruptcy.
- Now the Court looks further back at what you did with your money and property before filing bankruptcy.
- It is now harder for most people with above-average income to wipe out debts. However, the Court will let you wipe out your debts if the disaster reduced your income and increased your expenses.
- Most people have to file more of their papers with the Court. However, it is likely that you will not be penalized if you can't get hold of those papers because of disaster.
- It may also be harder to use bankruptcy to get rid of your debt if:
- You owe a lot of child support.
- You owe debts that someone calls fraud.
- You owe damages for a wreck due to reckless driving.
- You have a car you bought after April 21, 2003, and you owe more on it than it is worth.
- You have filed bankruptcy in the last few years.
- You have a student loan from a for-profit source.
- You have been convicted of certain drug-trafficking crimes.
· Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans.
· To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:
o call 800-532-1275
o Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161
o apply online at iowalegalaid.org
· If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, you can look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website – iowabar.org. A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.