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Filing Bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, Iowa

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Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated September 29, 2020

If you are a resident of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and have financial issues that are a constant source of family worries, then you should ask for help. We will be with you during these tough times and help you with filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. And you won’t have to give up your car or most, if any, of your property. While the unemployment rate in the city has declined, Council Bluffs has a high poverty rate of 13.9%. Also, households in Council Bluffs have a median yearly income of $49,750, which is considerably less than the nationwide median yearly income of $60,336. These are some reasons that force people to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. When you are struggling to make ends meet, filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs can be a good solution. 

Bankruptcy is a court process designed to provide individuals a "fresh start" from unmanageable debt. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs allows you to fully eliminate specific debts so that you can get that  fresh start. Also, if you’re struggling with debt, then filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be the best way to protect yourself from creditor harassment as well as collection efforts. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs only liquidates your unprotected assets, allowing you to pay off as much of your debt as possible. This will help you get back on your feet without skirting your responsibilities to your creditors. In contrast, there is  Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, you will prepare a payment plan strategy for the Bankruptcy Court.  The monthly installments will be determined by your income and expenses, so you’ll only have to pay as much as you can, based on your budget.

People have different types of myths and misconceptions surrounding bankruptcy. A common myth in Council Bluffs bankruptcy cases is that people think a person who files bankruptcy never gets credit again. That is not true. Many believe that filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs is complicated and they will have to pay huge sums to a bankruptcy attorney just to learn more about bankruptcy protection. In fact, you can get free legal help and learn a lot by looking through Upsolve’s Learning Center.

Council Bluffs Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost

Filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs is not as complicated as you may think. If your case is simple, you can easily file for bankruptcy on your own. However, if your case is complex, you may benefit from hiring an experienced bankruptcy lawyer when you file bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. A lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy law can handle all kinds of bankruptcy chapters. The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Council Bluffs varies from $965 to $1,500, depending on various factors, such as the experience of your attorney, and the complexity of your case. Equipped with the knowledge of what’s involved allows you to compare apples to apples. Some attorneys offer a free consultation as well. During this free Council Bluffs bankruptcy consultation, you can ask whether filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is more suitable for your situation. 

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How to File Bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, Iowa for Free

You have come to the right place if you want to know how to file bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. Follow this City Guide on filing bankruptcy in Council Bluff to overcome your financial troubles as soon as possible, and maybe even without having to hire a lawyer. 

Collect Your Council Bluffs Bankruptcy Documents

Collecting your documents is the first important step when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. While these documents aren’t required to be filed with the Court, they contain plenty of information that you’ll need as you go through the Council Bluffs bankruptcy process. You should itemize all your current income sources, monthly living expenses, major financial transactions for the past two years, and debts (both secured and unsecured). These documents will help you understand your current financial situation. In addition to your credit report, which you can request free of charge once per year, Council Bluffs bankruptcy documents include your bank statements, paycheck stubs, your tax returns, and copies of your vehicle registration. Your bank statements will come in handy when putting together a list of your monthly expenses. If you’re considering hiring an attorney, make sure you bring copies of your Council Bluffs bankruptcy documents to the initial consultation to speed things up. 

Take Credit Counseling

Among the important steps to take for your Council Bluffs bankruptcy is the requirement to receive credit counseling. When filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, make sure the organization you work with appears on the list of approved counseling agencies for Iowa bankruptcy cases. You have to participate in one session in the 6 months before filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. This credit counseling course costs between $10 and $50, depending on the provider you choose. The purpose of this counseling session is to determine if there are certain ways to handle your debt without going through Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy. 

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

One of the most important things to remember when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs is that you have a legal duty to disclose all the requested information truthfully. This is the step where hiring a lawyer or working with Upsolve could be most helpful if you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. They will do all the legwork by plugging all your information into the seemingly confusing official bankruptcy forms. Get the official court forms to make sure your Council Bluffs bankruptcy proceedings go smoothly. Also, steer clear of some common mistakes that Council Bluff residents make when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. For example, a fairly common mistake that people make on the Means Test is that they use the wrong household size. 

You only get one chance to tell your side of the story, and if you end up missing important information on any of your schedules, you will lose credibility.

Some of the forms you will have to fill are:

Get Your Filing Fee

You can use the money you saved by not hiring a lawyer to pay your filing fee. The cost of filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs depends on whether you are filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. The fee for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs is $338. You may qualify for a fee waiver in some cases; if you do, you will have to complete this fee waiver application. On the other hand, if you’re not eligible for a full fee waiver and are having a difficult time arranging the money, you may ask the Court to pay your fee in installments. Unless you qualify for a fee waiver, you will need to pay this fee. The fee include the following:

  • Filing fee

  • Administrative fee

  • Trustee surcharge

If you are filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs without a lawyer, you will have to print out your Council Bluffs bankruptcy forms. If you don’t have a printer at your home, you can go to a local Staples or Kinkos and print your bankruptcy forms there. While you only need a single copy of all your documents for the Court when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, it’s better to take the time to make a second copy for your personal records. If you have hired a bankruptcy lawyer, they will print out a copy of all documents before filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. Provide complete, relevant, accurate, and up to date information when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs to avoid any penalties. 

Go to Court to File Your Forms

The next step in filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs is to submit your bankruptcy forms to the Court. Note that this is a crucial step because all your creditors will be notified that you have filed for Council Bluffs bankruptcy, and they won’t be able to contact you to collect their debts any more. Clear any misunderstandings you may have about the filing process, so they don’t adversely affect your rights. To file your Council Bluffs bankruptcy in person, you’ll have to head to the Bankruptcy Court in Des Moines. If you’re not familiar with the area of town the courthouse is in, take some time to find out the best parking spot before you leave home, so that’s not an added source of stress for you.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

A bankruptcy trustee is responsible for the oversight and administration of your case. The first post-filing task is sending your Trustee all the paperwork that they request. You’ll have to provide certain financial documents to your Trustee, such as recent pay stubs and tax returns. After filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, you might also receive a letter from the Trustee that outlines any other tasks that they’d like you to complete as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

This is the course that you’re required to take after filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs and before your bankruptcy discharge can be entered. You are now a step closer to being relieved from having to pay most of your debts for good. relief! Bankruptcy Course 2 is similar to Course 1. It’s commonly known as the “debtor education course.” Individuals filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs have the option to take this course on the phone, in person, or over the internet. Once you complete the counseling, you will have to file a certification form with the Court to let the judge know you’ve complied with this requirement. You should try your best to finish this course before your 341 meeting, so you don’t have to worry about it later. There are many approved debtor education providers for folks filing bankruptcy Council Bluffs, though none of them are actually local. 

Attend Your 341 Meeting

The bankruptcy hearings, also known as 341 meetings are usually held at the federal building in either Lincoln, Council Bluffs, or Omaha in a room titled, “Trustee’s Meeting Room.” Make sure you arrive at least fifteen minutes early. While parking garages are available depending on where your 341 hearing is held, you may have to park on the street. Usually, your 341 Meeting will take place about one month after filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. One of the main purposes of this meeting is to make sure that you’re not concealing any expensive assets. Make sure you are well prepared for your 341 meeting by reviewing your Council Bluffs bankruptcy forms and supporting documents in advance.

Dealing with Your Car

If you own a car, you have to list it on your Council Bluffs bankruptcy forms. In addition to a home, the family vehicle is usually the most expensive asset individuals who file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs own. Fortunately, Iowa bankruptcy laws provide you the chance to deal with your vehicle in a way that best suits your individual situation. Most people like to keep their car when filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. If you would like to keep your car, you can, but you will have to keep the loan that is associated with the car by entering into a reaffirmation agreement

Iowa Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Council Bluffs

Iowa Means Test

When filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, an examination of your income and expenses, known as an Iowa bankruptcy Means Test is required for determining whether you qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. This calculation is based on six months of your pay stubs or other proof of income that determines the average of your (as well as your spouse’s) gross income, net income, deductions, and reasonable living expenses. The Iowa bankruptcy Means Test applies to all filers in the city. You are exempt from the Iowa bankruptcy Means Test if you are a disabled military veteran and incurred your debt mainly during active duty. Find out about the Chapter 7 income limits to make sure you are properly planning to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. 

Median Income Levels for Iowa

Iowa Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2023
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Poverty Levels for Iowa

Iowa Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2023

Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.

Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)

Iowa Bankruptcy Forms

The Iowa bankruptcy forms mainly comprise the various national forms, including the Schedules, the Voluntary Petition, the Statement of Intentions, and the Statement of Financial Affairs, among others. These forms are available for free online.  Complete all these Iowa bankruptcy forms when you are filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Council Bluffs. When filing bankruptcy in Council Bluffs, make sure you give yourself enough time to go through everything as some of the forms are complicated. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and need assistance, check out our screener to see if you’re a good candidate for our service.

Iowa Exemptions

Although some states allow filers to choose between the state exemptions or the federal bankruptcy exemptions, unfortunately, Iowa does not. Bankruptcy exemptions in Iowa protect your equity in a certain property, such as your car. When filing bankruptcy in Iowa, keep in mind that Iowa law can protect all or a certain portion of your property from being taken by the bankruptcy Trustee in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have considerable non-exempt property, you may wish to consult with a  Council Bluffs bankruptcy attorney to learn how you can legally best protect yourself and your family. 

Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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