Deed in lieu of foreclosure is a good option, if it works

Foreclosures across the nation have been creeping up every year.

Even though the economy is beginning to show some signs of recovery, there are still many people in over their heads in debt. This will likely still be the case for the better part of this year and into the next. In 2010 alone, there were close to 1.2 million bank repossessions, leaving many without their homes. The more foreclosures, the more bankruptcies, as these two things go hand in hand; filing for bankruptcy is just about the only thing a debtor can do to save their house, or buy some time to deal with their situation.

The minute you file for bankruptcy protection, the court orders all collection actions to stop immediately. This is referred to as an “automatic stay,” and is applicable to all kinds of bankruptcy filings. The stay simply means that it puts a halt to just about all lawsuits (though there are some exceptions), utility shut-offs, evictions, foreclosures, attachments, repos and other forms of debt collection harassment.

When you file bankruptcy, all of your creditors, including the mortgage company, have to go through a bankruptcy court trustee. This means you don’t deal with them until your case is dismissed or discharged. If you are still in default on discharge or dismissal, the lender will still go through foreclosure to repossess your property. However, there is generally a very long period of time between when you file and when the mortgage company takes possession of your house.

This period is one in which you can negotiate your mortgage, depending on what kind of bankruptcy you filled and what state you live in. One thing you could try is offering the mortgage holders a deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. If they choose to accept it, they can’t collect any short-fall between the actual value of the house and what you owed on it. This may or may not work, depending on what state you live in. Always check with a qualified Iowa bankruptcy attorney to find out what options you have at your disposal.

It’s no secret that bankruptcy laws and foreclosures are very complex and complicated; something you do not want to tackle on your own. Hiring a competent and experienced Iowa bankruptcy attorney is a smart move on your part to help you understand what you are facing and how it will affect you now and in the future.

The bottom line? There is no “easy” way out of debt, not when you are in over your head. It happens. That’s life and sometimes, life gets out of hand. This is why you will need a skilled bankruptcy attorney helping you through the maze of laws, rules, regulations and piles of paper.

Kevin Ahrenholz is an Iowa bankruptcy lawyer and Iowa bankruptcy attorney. To contact him, visit or call 1.877.888.1766.