Spring 2022, Time for a Fresh Start!

We are still adjusting to the new normal with Covid protocols. We are doing all hearings by telephone and I have found my clients now prefer telephone meetings with me so there is no need to drive to my office!

The attorney fee is $1000 and the filing fee is $338

so $1,338 total plus the two online courses are under $20.

You can email jeff at jeff.mathias@gmail.com to rock and roll.


We have an unlimited homestead exemption here in Iowa so you get to keep your home as long as you make payments. The car exemption is $7,000 so if your car is worth $20,000 and you owe $13,000 or more you are fine since your equity is all we need to exempt. Most people are fine keeping their car.

You also get to keep retirement, furniture, appliances, jewerly, most people do not lose anything! If it is close to tax season do talk to Jeff about protecting your refunds. You can discharge your credit cards, medical and most consumer debt. The main non dischargeables are newer back taxes, student loans and child support. Most of my clients report wishing they had filed long before they did.


"Before calling Jeff for help I felt ashamed that I had let myself get into the financial situation I was in and believed that by filing bankruptcy I would be judged. From the first email to my court hearing Jeff always made me feel at ease and never once made me feel like I was a failure for having to go through this".

"He was always prompt in emails, always answered my questions and kept me informed throughout the process. He gave me a positive outlook for mine and my families future. Thank you for everything you have done for us."



Tax Refunds and Timing

The later we get into the Fall, the more we have worked and the more of our 2014 tax refunds we have earned.  When we file bankruptcy, we list out and exempt our property.  Important assets like home, car, furniture, retirement etc. are exempt.  We can claim $1,000 per working person of tax refunds exempt plus we can use your wild card up to $1,000 each.

We also pro-rate, so for most of the year tax refunds are not an issue since much have not been earned yet, so are not assets to be listed and exempted when the case is filed.  Plus, you get to keep all Earned Income Credit.  But if you do get big refunds, you may have non-exempt tax refunds, especially for those who file bankruptcy after about September 1st.

Feel free to email copies of your 2013 Fed and IA 1040's to Jeff for estimates of how much of your tax refunds you are likely to keep if you file bankruptcy in the fall or winter.  

Beware- Creditors often sue and garnish late in the year.  That way you either wait on bankruptcy to protect your refunds or you go ahead and file bankruptcy to stop the garnishment and they end up getting some of your refunds, a win/win for them.



Iowa Household Annual Median Income 

If you are below median income, you are eligible for Chapter 7.
1 Person Household- Iowa Gross Annual Median Income - $50,328
2 People Household-
Iowa Gross Annual Median Income - $71,767
3 People Household-
Iowa Gross Annual Median Income - $81,910
4 People Household-
Iowa Gross Annual Median Income - $96,373
5 People Household-
Iowa Gross Annual Median Income - $105,373
Include all children you support in your "household".  

Exclude Social Security.

Questions? Jeff.Mathias@Gmail.com

Ready to Start? $1,000 Attorney Fee, $338 Filing Fee   

Step 1 Credit Counseling 

If you are under median income, the next step is your

It costs $35 total whether single or joint married filing and takes around 60-90 minutes.  It is good for Six Months, so you can get this out of the way now.   

Jeff.Mathias@Gmail.com a copy of your certificate(s) and questions to Jeff.  

Step 2 Accumulate Fees & Documents 

Below is what you will need.  Go ahead and Jeff.Mathias@Gmail.com a copy of your credit counseling certificate first.  Jeff can send you some simple forms to fill out early so we can spot issues and have everything ready for our low stress office appointment.  It is also fine to Jeff.Mathias@Gmail.com PDF copies of most recently filed taxes and pay stubs listed below. 

 __Attorney and filing fee in cash or money order.  Jeff's fixed attorney fee depends on whether you are filing single or joint and the complexity of your case.  The filing fee is currently $335. 

__Mandatory Credit Counseling Certificate(s) Required.  There is one more online course after we file.  Jeff will email you when it is time.

__All bills you intend to discharge (credit cards, medical etc.) with account numbers and full address including zip code;

__Creditor information (full address, account #'s) on debts you will keep like home or car loans;

__Last two months (60 days) pay stubs from work, including your spouse even if they are not filing. If you are paid bi-weekly, this is four pay stubs.

__If you do not receive wage income, bring records of other income for the last six months;

__Most recent state and federal tax returns;

__W2's for the last two years;

__Photo ID and Social Security Card or proof of social security number.

Go ahead and Email Jeff once you have these documents available and we can prepare ahead of our office meeting to make sure things go smoothly. 

Step 3 Des Moines Office Appointment

We will meet once in Des Moines after we have prepared via email.   Ideally we are just reviewing the information and documents you have already provided and the draft petition already prepared, in which case the office meeting may be done in 30 minutes.

Jeff files electronically and your hearing is about 30 days later here in Des Moines.

Jeff also handles Iowa Criminal Defense.  See Jeff's Iowa Bankruptcy & Divorce News.

Jeff also handles Uncontested and Collaborative Divorce in Des Moines.  See Jeff's History of Child Support in Iowa.

Des Moines Office: 4800 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 218, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265.  
Jeff has helped thousands of Iowan's get a Fresh Start from Jeff Mathias on Vimeo.
Jeff handles Iowa bankruptcy filings from all 99 Iowa counties in Des Moines.  See Jeff's MathiasLaw.com.
 More about Jeff Mathias on Google+

Jeff's Iowa Bankruptcy Youtube Channel
Jeff's Iowa Bankruptcy Guide


Des Moines Bankruptcy Hearings are now Via Telephone Only

All hearings are not by telephone! No more driving downtown, dealing with traffic, one way streets and garage parking! No more building security wait and hassles. Happiness! We will do a conference call where the trustee will ask you to confirm the accuracy of your petition. Most hearings take about 3 minutes and Jeff is on the line too. After your telephone hearing your discharge comes about 9 1/2 weeks later.


Iowa Chapter 7 Bankruptcy - Mistakes to Avoid & Reaffirmation

Common Iowa Bankruptcy Mistakes

1. Preference Payments

If you owe on credit cards or medical debt and instead of paying that you pay past-due debt to family within 1 year of filing bankruptcy, that is a preference payment. The Judge can take that money back from your family and give it to your other creditors. For ordinary (non family) creditors it is within 90 days of filing bankruptcy. So don't pay past due debt just before filing. On-time payments in the ordinary course of business are fine.

2. Transferring Property
Don't transfer titles, sign property away etc. before you file bankruptcy. Don't sell property for less than fair market value. The Judge can reverse these transfers.

3. Loading Up
Once you know you can not repay your debt, it is fraudulent to continue to acquire new debt. So don't do any cash advances or balance transfers. It is best to stop using credit cards entirely once you know you are going to have to file bankruptcy. There is a presumption that charges made within 90 days of filing are fraudulent and those may have to be repaid.

4. Tax Refunds
If you are filing after about October 1st and before you get your tax refunds, be sure to discuss how much you can exempt with Jeff. You have a $1,000/$2,000 joint exemption plus you can use part of your wild card(s) for tax refunds and you also keep all Earned Income Credit, see page 2 of your Federal 1040.
NOTE: Huge tax refunds are not good. This is a no-interest loan you are making to Uncle Sam each year. Far better to claim more dependents and get more $ on each paycheck.

5. Unlisted Debt
Please don't leave creditors off your petition! Jeff will email you a draft petition so you can review it again after we go through everything together in the office.

6. Unlisted Assets
We can't exempt assets that are not listed, so very important to list everything you own of significance. Normally we can deal with it in some way.

7. Lawsuits & Claims against Others
Personal Injury and other claims must be listed. Because your cooperation is needed in order to prosecute your Personal Injury claim, an arrangement can often be made so you can keep part of the proceeds & we may be able to exempt them if you need them for basic living expenses.

8. Inheritance
If you will be receiving an inheritance or life insurance proceeds within 6 months, do not file bankruptcy. If you do receive these funds the Court can take them to satisfy your debt.

9. Waiting too Long
Lawsuits, wage and bank garnishments and liens and all their associated headaches can be avoided.

10. Missed Hearing
If you forget to attend your hearing your case may be dismissed.

See Jeff's Iowa Divorce & Bankruptcy Lawyer

Reaffirmation Agreements
When you file Chapter 7 you schedule all debt including home and car loans you would like to keep. Some banks request new contracts called Reaffirmation Agreements. Our Judge prefers in most cases that you not reaffirm. She normally tells clients to just keep & pay. That way you can not be sued, garnished etc. if you can't pay in the future for some reason. Since banks are inconsistent on credit reporting, you may want to pull your Equifax credit report occasionally and see if they are reporting your payments. if not, you can request a payment history from the lender once a year and forward that to the credit bureaus with a request they update your credit history.  Also see Northern District of Iowa Bankruptcy Court on Reaffirmation Agreements.  Jeff's Facebook and Twitter.  More on Common Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Mistakes

Video on Reaffirmation Agreements in Iowa Chapter 7

Serving all of Iowa from Des Moines - Jeff Mathias Law Office,
4800 Mills Civic Parkway, Suite 218, West Des Moines, Iowa 50265.