Iowa Bankruptcy Exemptions
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A debtor is generally permitted an exemption of certain personal or real property in the enforcement of a judgment against him or in a bankruptcy proceeding under state laws or federal laws. Under the laws of Iowa, the homestead of every person is generally exempt from judicial sale. (Iowa Code Section 561.16.) Other general exemptions may include wearing apparel of the debtor and his dependents, household furniture and furnishings, automobile, burying ground, cash value in life insurance polices, pension, and public benefits. Each of the prescribed exemptions may be limited to certain amount in value. (Iowa Code Sections 627.1 et seq.)
In a bankruptcy proceeding, although the federal statute permits election of exemptions provided under state laws or federal laws, the State of Iowa specifically precludes such election. (Iowa Code Section 627.10.) This means that a resident of Iowa may only claim exemption of such property and to the extent as permitted under Sections 627.1 et seq. of the Iowa Code even if the exemption provided under the federal Bankruptcy Code may be more beneficial to the debtor.
Title XIV. Property [Chs. 555-594A]
561.1. “Homestead” defined
Subtitle 2. Real Property--Gifts [Chs. 557-569]
Chapter 561. Homestead (Refs & Annos)
1. The homestead must embrace the house used as a home by the owner, and, if the owner has two or more houses thus used, the owner may select which the owner will retain. It may contain one or more contiguous lots or tracts of land, with the building and other appurtenances thereon, habitually and in good faith used as part of the same homestead.
2. As used in this chapter, “owner” includes but is not limited to the person, or the surviving spouse of the person, occupying the homestead as a beneficiary of a trust that includes the property in the trust estate.
561.2. Extent and value
If within a city plat, it must not exceed one-half acre in extent, otherwise it must not contain in the aggregate more than forty acres, but if, in either case, its value is less than five hundred dollars, it may be enlarged until it reaches that amount.
561.3. Dwelling and appurtenances
It must not embrace more than one dwelling house, or any other buildings except such as are properly appurtenant thereto, but a shop or other building situated thereon, actually used and occupied by the owner in the prosecution of the owner's ordinary business, and not exceeding three hundred dollars in value, is appurtenant thereto.
The owner, husband or wife, or a single person, may select the homestead and cause it to be platted, but a failure to do so shall not render the same liable when it otherwise would not be, and a selection by the owner shall control. When selected, it shall be designated by a legal description, or if impossible it shall be marked off by permanent, visible monuments, and the description shall give the direction and distance of the starting point from some corner of the dwelling, which description, with the plat, shall be filed and recorded by the recorder of the proper county in the manner provided in sections 558.49 and 558.52.
561.5. Platted by officer having execution
Should the homestead not be platted and recorded at the time levy is made upon real property in which a homestead is included, the officer having the execution shall give notice in writing to the owner or owners if found within the county, to plat and record the same within ten days after service; after which time the officer shall cause the homestead to be platted and recorded, and the expense shall be added to the costs in the case.
561.6. Platting under order of court
Upon application made to the district court by any creditor of the owner of the homestead, or other person interested therein, such court shall hear the cause upon the proof offered, and fix and establish the boundaries thereof, and the judgment therein shall be filed and recorded in the manner provided in section 561.5.
561.7. Changes--nonconsenting spouse
The owner may, from time to time, change the limits of the homestead by changing the metes and bounds, as well as the record of the plat and description, or vacate it.
Such changes shall not prejudice conveyances or liens made or created previously thereto.
No such change of the entire homestead, made without the concurrence of the other spouse, shall affect that spouse's rights, or those of the children.
561.8. Referees to determine exemption
When a disagreement takes place between the owner and any person adversely interested, as to whether any land or buildings are properly a part of the homestead, the sheriff shall, at the request of either party, summon nine disinterested persons having the qualifications of jurors. The parties then, commencing with the owner, shall in turn strike off one person each, until three remain. Should either party fail to do so, the sheriff may act for that person, and the three as referees shall proceed to examine and ascertain all the facts of the case, and report the same, with their opinion thereon, to the court from which the execution or other process may have issued within thirty days after their qualification as referees.
561.9. Referring back--marking off--costs
The court in its discretion may refer the whole or any part of the matter back to the same or other referees, to be selected in the same manner, or as the parties agree, giving them directions as to the report required of them. When the court is sufficiently advised in the case, it shall make its decision, and may direct the homestead to be marked off anew, or a new plat and description to be made and recorded, and take such other steps as shall be lawful and expedient in attaining the purpose of this chapter. It shall also award costs in accordance with the practice in other cases, as nearly as may be.
561.10. Change of circumstances
The extent or appurtenances of the homestead thus established may be called in question in like manner, whenever a change in value or circumstances will justify such new proceedings.
561.11. Occupancy by surviving spouse
Upon the death of either spouse, the survivor may continue to possess and occupy the whole homestead until it is otherwise disposed of according to law, but the setting off of the distributive share of the survivor in the real estate of the deceased shall be such a disposal of the homestead as is herein contemplated.
561.12. Life possession in lieu of dower
The survivor may elect to retain the homestead for life in lieu of such share in the real estate of the deceased.
561.13. Conveyance or encumbrance
A conveyance or encumbrance of, or contract to convey or encumber the homestead, if the owner is married, is not valid, unless and until the spouse of the owner executes the same or a like instrument, or a power of attorney for the execution of the same or a like instrument. However, when the homestead is conveyed or encumbered along with or in addition to other real estate, it is not necessary to particularly describe or set aside the tract of land constituting the homestead, whether the homestead is exclusively the subject of the contract or not, but the contract may be enforced as to real estate other than the homestead at the option of the purchaser or encumbrancer. If a spouse who holds only homestead rights and surviving spouse's statutory share in the homestead specifically relinquishes homestead rights in an instrument, including a power of attorney constituting the other spouse as the husband's or wife's attorney in fact, as provided in section 597.5, it is not necessary for the spouse to join in the granting clause of the same or a like instrument.
Subject to the rights of the surviving spouse, the homestead may be devised like other real estate of the testator.
561.15. Removal of spouse or children
Neither spouse can remove the other nor the children from the homestead without the consent of the other.
The homestead of every person is exempt from judicial sale where there is no special declaration of statute to the contrary. Persons who reside together as a single household unit are entitled to claim in the aggregate only one homestead to be exempt from judicial sale. A single person may claim only one homestead to be exempt from judicial sale. For purposes of this section, “household unit” means all persons of whatever ages, whether or not related, who habitually reside together in the same household as a group.
561.17. Repealed by Acts 1981 (69 G.A.) ch. 182, § 5
If there be no survivor, the homestead descends to the issue of either spouse according to the rules of descent, unless otherwise directed by will.
561.19. Exemption in hands of issue
Where the homestead descends to the issue of either spouse the homestead shall be held exempt from any antecedent debts of the issue's parents or antecedent debts of the issue, except those of the owner of the homestead contracted prior to acquisition of the homestead or those created under section 249A.5 relating to the recovery of medical assistance payments.
561.20. New homestead exempt
Where there has been a change in the limits of the homestead, or a new homestead has been acquired with the proceeds of the old, the new homestead, to the extent in value of the old, is exempt from execution in all cases where the old or former one would have been.
561.21. Debts for which homestead liable
The homestead may be sold to satisfy debts of each of the following classes:
1. Those contracted prior to its acquisition, but then only to satisfy a deficiency remaining after exhausting the other property of the debtor, liable to execution.
2. Those created by written contract by persons having the power to convey, expressly stipulating that it shall be liable, but then only for a deficiency remaining after exhausting all other property pledged by the same contract for the payment of the debt.
3. Those incurred for work done or material furnished exclusively for the improvement of the homestead.
4. If there is no survivor or issue, for the payment of any debts to which it might at that time be subjected if it had never been held as a homestead.
561.22. Notice of homestead exemption waiver requirement
1. a. Except as otherwise provided in subsection 2, if a homestead exemption waiver is contained in a written contract affecting agricultural land as defined in section 9H.1, or dwellings, buildings, or other appurtenances located on the land, the contract must contain a statement in substantially the following form, in boldface type of a minimum size of ten points, and be signed and dated by the person waiving the exemption at the time of the execution of the contract: “I understand that homestead property is in many cases protected from the claims of creditors and exempt from judicial sale; and that by signing this contract, I voluntarily give up my right to this protection for this property with respect to claims based upon this contract.”
b. A principal or deputy state, county, or city officer shall not be required to waive the officer's homestead exemption in order to be bonded as required pursuant to chapter 64.
2. This section shall not apply to a written contract affecting agricultural land of less than forty acres.
561.23 to 561.25. Reserved
561.23 to 561.25. Reserved
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires, “book”, “list”, “record”, or “schedule” kept by a county auditor, assessor, treasurer, recorder, sheriff, or other county officer means the county system as defined in section 445.1.
Title XV. Judicial Branch and Judicial Procedures [Chs. 595-686]
Subtitle 3. Civil Procedure [Chs. 611-631] (Refs & Annos)
Chapter 627. Exemptions (Refs & Annos)
627.1. Repealed by Acts 1981 (69 G.A.) ch. 182, § 5
627.2. Who deemed resident
Any person coming into this state with the intention of remaining shall be considered a resident.
627.3. Failure to claim exemption
Any person entitled to any of the exemptions mentioned in this chapter does not waive the person's rights thereto by failing to designate or select such exempt property, or by failing to object to a levy thereon, unless the person fails or neglects to do so when required in writing by the officer about to levy thereon.
627.4. Absconding debtor
When a debtor absconds and leaves the debtor's family, such property as is exempt to the debtor under this chapter shall be exempt in the hands of the debtor's spouse and children, or either of them.
627.5. Purchase money
None of the exemptions prescribed in this chapter shall be allowed against an execution issued for the purchase money of property claimed to be exempt, and on which such execution is levied.
627.6. General exemptions
A debtor who is a resident of this state may hold exempt from execution the following property:
1. The debtor's interest in:
a. Any wedding or engagement ring owned or received by the debtor or the debtor's dependents. However, any interest acquired in one or more wedding or engagement rings owned or received by the debtor or the debtor's dependents after the date of marriage and within two years of the date the execution is issued or an exemption is claimed shall not exceed a value equal to seven thousand dollars in the aggregate minus the amount claimed by the debtor for any other jewelry claimed in paragraph “b”.
b. All jewelry of the debtor and the debtor's dependents owned or received by the debtor or the debtor's dependents, not to exceed in value two thousand dollars in the aggregate.
2. One shotgun, and either one rifle or one musket.
3. Private libraries, family bibles, portraits, pictures and paintings not to exceed in value one thousand dollars in the aggregate.
4. An interment space or an interest in a public or private burying ground, not exceeding one acre for any defendant.
5. The debtor's interest in all wearing apparel of the debtor and the debtor's dependents kept for actual use and the trunks or other receptacles necessary for the wearing apparel, musical instruments, household furnishings, and household goods which include, but are not limited to, appliances, radios, television sets, record or tape playing machines, compact disc players, satellite dishes, cable television equipment, computers, software, printers, digital video disc players, video players, and cameras held primarily for the personal, family, or household use of the debtor and the debtor's dependents, not to exceed in value seven thousand dollars in the aggregate.
6. The interest of an individual in any accrued dividend or interest, loan or cash surrender value of, or any other interest in a life insurance policy owned by the individual if the beneficiary of the policy is the individual's spouse, child, or dependent. However, the amount of the exemption shall not exceed ten thousand dollars in the aggregate of any interest or value in insurance acquired within two years of the date execution is issued or exemptions are claimed, or for additions within the same time period to a prior existing policy which additions are in excess of the amount necessary to fund the amount of face value coverage of the policies for the two-year period. For purposes of this paragraph, acquisitions shall not include such interest in new policies used to replace prior policies to the extent of any accrued dividend or interest, loan or cash surrender value of, or any other interest in the prior policies at the time of their cancellation.
In the absence of a written agreement or assignment to the contrary, upon the death of the insured any benefit payable to the spouse, child, or dependent of the individual under a life insurance policy shall inure to the separate use of the beneficiary independently of the insured's creditors.
A benefit or indemnity paid under an accident, health, or disability insurance policy is exempt to the insured or in case of the insured's death to the spouse, child, or dependent of the insured, from the insured's debts.
In case of an insured's death the avails of all matured policies of life, accident, health, or disability insurance payable to the surviving spouse, child, or dependent are exempt from liability for all debts of the beneficiary contracted prior to death of the insured, but the amount thus exempted shall not exceed fifteen thousand dollars in the aggregate.
7. Professionally prescribed health aids for the debtor or a dependent of the debtor.
8. The debtor's rights in:
a. A social security benefit, unemployment compensation, or any public assistance benefit.
b. A veteran's benefit.
c. A disability or illness benefit.
d. Alimony, support, or separate maintenance, to the extent reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor and dependents of the debtor.
e. A payment or a portion of a payment under a pension, annuity, or similar plan or contract on account of illness, disability, death, age, or length of service, unless the payment or a portion of the payment results from contributions to the plan or contract by the debtor within one year prior to the filing of a bankruptcy petition, which contributions are above the normal and customary contributions under the plan or contract, in which case the portion of the payment attributable to the contributions above the normal and customary rate is not exempt.
f. Contributions and assets, including the accumulated earnings and market increases in value, in any of the plans or contracts as follows:
(1) All transfers, in any amount, from a trust forming part of a stock, bonus, pension, or profit-sharing plan of an employer defined in section 401(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and of which the trust assets are exempt from taxation under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), as codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., to either of the following:
(a) A succeeding trust authorized under federal law on or after April 25, 2001.
(b) An individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity established under section 408(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, from which the total value, including accumulated earnings and market increases in value, may be contributed to a succeeding trust authorized under federal law on or after April 25, 2001. For purposes of this subparagraph, transfers, in any amount, from an individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity established under section 408(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code to an individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity established under section 408(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or an individual retirement account established under section 408(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, or an individual retirement annuity established under section 408(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, or a Roth individual retirement account, or a Roth individual retirement annuity established under section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code are exempt.
(2) All transfers, in any amount, from an eligible retirement plan to an individual retirement account, an individual retirement annuity, a Roth individual retirement account, or a Roth individual retirement annuity established under section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code shall be exempt from execution and from the claims of creditors.
As used in this subparagraph, “eligible retirement plan” means the funds or assets in any retirement plan established under state or federal law that meet all of the following requirements:
(a) Can be transferred to an individual retirement account or individual retirement annuity established under sections 408(a) and 408(b) of the Internal Revenue Code or Roth individual retirement accounts and Roth individual retirement annuities established under section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code.
(b) Are either exempt from execution under state or federal law or are excluded from a bankruptcy estate under 11 U.S.C. § 541(c)(2) et seq.
(3) Retirement plans established pursuant to qualified domestic relations orders, as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 414. However, nothing in this section shall be construed as making any retirement plan exempt from the claims of the beneficiary of a qualified domestic relations order or from claims for child support or alimony.
(4) For simplified employee pension plans, self-employed pension plans (also known as Keogh plans or H.R. 10 plans), individual retirement accounts established under section 408(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, individual retirement annuities established under section 408(b) of the Internal Revenue Code, savings incentive matched plans for employees, salary reduction simplified employee pension plans (also known as SARSEPs), and similar plans for retirement investments authorized in the future under federal law, the exemption for contributions shall not exceed, for each tax year of contributions, the actual amount of the contribution deducted on the debtor's tax return or the maximum amount which could be contributed to an individual retirement account established under section 408(a) of the Internal Revenue Code and deducted in the tax year of the contribution, whichever is less. The exemption for accumulated earnings and market increases in value of plans under this subparagraph shall be limited to an amount determined by multiplying all the accumulated earnings and market increases in value by a fraction, the numerator of which is the total amount of exempt contributions as determined by this subparagraph, and the denominator of which is the total of exempt and nonexempt contributions to the plan.
(5) For Roth individual retirement accounts and Roth individual retirement annuities established under section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code and similar plans for retirement investments authorized in the future under federal law, the exemption for contributions shall not exceed, for each tax year of contributions, the actual amount of the contribution or the maximum amount which federal law allows to be contributed to such plans. The exemption for accumulated earnings and market increases in value of plans under this subparagraph shall be limited to an amount determined by multiplying all of the accumulated earnings and market increases in value by a fraction, the numerator of which is the total amount of exempt contributions as determined by this subparagraph, and the denominator of which is the total of exempt and nonexempt contributions to the plan.
(6) For all contributions to plans described in subparagraphs (4) and (5), the maximum contribution in each of the two tax years preceding the claim of exemption or filing of a bankruptcy shall be limited to the maximum deductible contribution to an individual retirement account established under section 408(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, regardless of which plan for retirement investment has been chosen by the debtor.
(7) Exempt assets transferred from any individual retirement account, individual retirement annuity, Roth individual retirement account, or Roth individual retirement annuity to any other individual retirement account, individual retirement annuity, Roth individual retirement annuity, or Roth individual retirement account established under section 408A of the Internal Revenue Code shall continue to be exempt regardless of the number of times transferred between individual retirement accounts, individual retirement annuities, Roth individual retirement annuities, or Roth individual retirement accounts.
For purposes of this paragraph “f”, “market increases in value” shall include, but shall not be limited to, dividends, stock splits, interest, and appreciation. “Contributions” means contributions by the debtor and by the debtor's employer.
9. The debtor's interest in one motor vehicle, not to exceed in value seven thousand dollars.
10. In the event of a bankruptcy proceeding, the debtor's interest in accrued wages and in state and federal tax refunds as of the date of filing of the petition in bankruptcy, not to exceed one thousand dollars in the aggregate. This exemption is in addition to the limitations contained in sections 642.21 and 537.5105.
11. If the debtor is engaged in any profession or occupation other than farming, the proper implements, professional books, or tools of the trade of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor, not to exceed in value ten thousand dollars in the aggregate.
12. If the debtor is engaged in farming and does not exercise the delay of the enforceability of a deficiency judgment or general execution under section 654.6 in relation to the execution under which the exemption is claimed, any combination of the following, not to exceed a value of ten thousand dollars in the aggregate:
a. Implements and equipment reasonably related to a normal farming operation. This exemption is in addition to a motor vehicle held exempt under subsection 9.
b. Livestock and feed for the livestock reasonably related to a normal farming operation.
13. If the debtor is engaged in farming the agricultural land upon the commencement of an action for the foreclosure of a mortgage on the agricultural land or for the enforcement of an obligation secured by a mortgage on the agricultural land, if a deficiency judgment is issued against the debtor, and if the debtor does not exercise the delay of the enforceability of the deficiency judgment or general execution under section 654.6 in relation to the execution under which the exemption is claimed, the disposable earnings of the debtor are exempt from garnishment to enforce the deficiency judgment after two years from the entry of the deficiency judgment, sections 642.21 and 642.22 notwithstanding. However, earnings paid to the debtor directly or indirectly by the debtor are not exempt.
14. The debtor's interest, not to exceed one thousand dollars in the aggregate, in any cash on hand, bank deposits, credit union share drafts, or other deposits, wherever situated, or other personal property not otherwise specifically provided for in this chapter.
15. The debtor's interest, not to exceed five hundred dollars in the aggregate, in any combination of the following property:
a. Any residential rental deposit held by a landlord as a security deposit, as well as any interest earned on such deposit as a result of any statute or rule requiring that such deposit be placed in an interest-bearing account.
b. Any residential utility deposit held by any electric, gas, telephone, or water company as a condition for initiation or reinstatement of such utility service, as well as any interest earned on such deposit as a result of any statute or rule requiring that such deposit be placed in an interest-bearing account.
c. Any rent paid to the landlord in advance of the date due under any unexpired residential lease.
Notwithstanding the provisions of this subsection, a debtor shall not be permitted to claim these exemptions against a landlord or utility company, with regard to sums held under the terms of a rental agreement, or for utility services furnished to the debtor.
16. The debtor's interest in payments reasonably necessary for the support of the debtor or the debtor's dependents to or for the benefit of the debtor or the debtor's dependents, including structured settlements, resulting from personal injury to the debtor or the debtor's dependents or the wrongful death of a decedent upon which the debtor or the debtor's dependents were dependent.
627.6A. Exemptions for support--pensions and similar payments
1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 627.6, a debtor shall not be permitted to claim exemptions with regard to payment or a portion of payment under a pension, annuity, individual retirement account, profit-sharing plan, universal life insurance policy, or similar plan or contract due to illness, disability, death, age, or length of service for child, spousal, or medical support.
2. In addition to subsection 1, if another provision of law otherwise provides that payments, income, or property are subject to attachment for child, spousal, or medical support, those provisions shall supersede section 627.6.
627.7. Motor vehicle
No motor vehicle shall be held exempt from any order, judgment, or decree for damages occasioned by the use of said motor vehicle upon a public highway of this state.
627.8. Pension money
All money received by any person, a resident of the state, as a pension from the United States government, whether the same shall be in the actual possession of such pensioner, or deposited, loaned, or invested by the pensioner, shall be exempt from execution, whether such pensioner shall be the head of a family or not.
627.9. Homestead bought with pension money
The homestead of every such pensioner, whether the head of a family or not, purchased and paid for with any such pension money, or the proceeds or accumulations thereof, shall also be exempt; and such exemption shall apply to debts of such pensioner contracted prior to the purchase of the homestead.
627.10. Bankruptcy exemption
A debtor to whom the law of this state applies on the date of filing of a petition in bankruptcy is not entitled to elect to exempt from property of the bankruptcy estate the property that is specified in 11 U.S.C. sec. 522(d) (1979). This section is enacted for the purpose set forth in 11 U.S.C. sec. 522(b)(1) (1979).
627.11. Exception under decree for spousal support
If the party in whose favor the order, judgment, or decree for the support of a spouse was rendered has not remarried, the personal earnings of the debtor are not exempt from an order, judgment, or decree for temporary or permanent support, as defined in section 252D.16A, of a spouse, nor from an installment of an order, judgment, or decree for the support of a spouse.
627.12. Exception under decree for child support
The personal earnings of the debtor are not exempt from an order, judgment, or decree for the support, as defined in section 252D.16A, of a child, nor from an installment of an order, judgment, or decree for the support of a child.
627.13. Workers' compensation
Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 554.9406 and 554.9408, any compensation due or that may become due an employee or dependent under chapter 85, 85A, or 85B is exempt from garnishment, attachment, execution, and assignment of income, except for the purposes of enforcing child, spousal, or medical support obligations. For the purposes of enforcing child, spousal, or medical support obligations, an assignment of income, garnishment or attachment of or the execution against compensation due an employee under chapter 85, 85A, or 85B is not exempt but shall be limited as specified in 15 U.S.C. § 1673(b).
627.14 to 627.16. Repealed by Acts 1981 (69 G.A.) ch. 182, § 5
627.14 to 627.16. Repealed by Acts 1981 (69 G.A.) ch. 182, § 5
627.14 to 627.16. Repealed by Acts 1981 (69 G.A.) ch. 182, § 5
627.17. Sending claims out of state
Whoever, whether as principal, agent, or attorney, with intent to deprive a resident in good faith of the state of the benefit of the exemption laws thereof, sends a claim against such resident and belonging to a resident, to another state for action, or causes action to be brought on such claim in another state, or assigns or transfers such claim to a nonresident of the state, with intent that action thereon be brought in the courts of another state, the action in either case being one which might have been brought in this state, and the property or debt sought to be reached by such action being such as might, but for the exemptions laws of this state, have been reached by action in the courts of this state, shall be guilty of a simple misdemeanor.
627.18. Public property
Public buildings owned by the state, or any county, city, school district, or other municipal corporation, or any other public property which is necessary and proper for carrying out the general purpose for which such corporation is organized, are exempt from execution.
627.19. Adopted child assistance
Any financial assistance due or that may become due, under the provisions of sections 600.17 through 600.22, shall be exempt from garnishment, attachment, and execution.
- Real Estate: Under the laws of Iowa, the homestead of every person is generally exempt from judicial sale.
- Vehicles: No motor vehicle shall be held exempt from any order, judgment, or decree for damages occasioned by the use of said motor vehicle upon a public highway of this state.