How Much Bankruptcy Costs and How to Pay for it – NerdWallet

It ’ s a authoritative catch-22 : You ’ re in roughly fiscal shape and want to file for bankruptcy. But between filing fees and the monetary value of hiring the right bankruptcy lawyer, you could end up paying hundreds or even thousands of dollars to do sol. here ’ s what bankruptcy costs — and how to pay for it.

How much does it cost to file for bankruptcy?

You ’ ll face two expenses : the court filing fees, and lawyer fees for the bankruptcy lawyer who files your prayer, helps you through the means test and represents you in court.

You ‘ll broadly decide between Chapter 7 five chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, most all of your debts will be forgiven ; and Chapter 13, which reorganizes debts into a refund design and can reduce what you owe while letting you retain keystone assets .

chapter 7 chapter 13
Filing fees $ 338 $ 313
Attorney fees* $ 500 – $ 3,500 $ 1,500 – $ 6,000
total $ 838 – $ 3,838 $ 1,813 – $ 6,313

*Attorney fees vary greatly ; these are approximate ranges. file fees are the same nationally, but lawyer fees vary based on your location, the complexity of your case and the lawyer. In general, they ’ ll be lower if you live in a rural area or have a simple lawsuit. A complex bankruptcy casing in Manhattan, however, will likely cost respective thousand dollars. If you ’ rhenium file for chapter 13 bankruptcy, your court will review your lawyer fees unless they fall below the alleged “ no-look ” level that ’ mho recognized as reasonable. This grade varies from one zone to another, sol check with your local woo before hiring an lawyer.

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How to pay for a bankruptcy

Filing chapter 13 means you have the fiscal footing to structure a repayment plan for your debts — including lawyer fees — after you ’ ve filed. But if you ’ re in enough fiscal distress that you need to file chapter 7, you ’ ll likely motivation to pay your lawyer before he or she files your case. If you can ’ thyroxine yield these costs, you can :

  • Raise the money
  • bring out a payment plan before filing
  • Go pro bono, which means finding an lawyer who will take your case release of charge

The first choice takes creativity and hard work. The others require you to prove fiscal need, so gather proof of your income and expenses, a well as your tax statements, before meeting with any legal guidance.

1. Raise the money

A few simple steps can help you free up or find money for your bankruptcy. first gear : Minimize your outgoing cash. “ If you ’ re inactive paying your credit cards, stop paying them, ” New Jersey bankruptcy lawyer John Hargrave says. “ You ’ re precisely throwing that money away if you ’ re going to file. Save that money and put it toward your bankruptcy. ” Unsecured debts, such as credit card bills, are wiped out by a chapter 7 bankruptcy, so it makes little common sense to keep paying them if you ’ re certain about using this debt relief option. next, try to earn some extra income. Selling erstwhile electronics or taking on a half-time job are two ways to earn some fast cash. If you ’ ve already pawned your apartment screen and started a frank walking service but still don ’ t have enough to cover your bankruptcy, try asking kin and friends for help.

2. Work out a plan

You might be able to spread out the costs of your lawyer and file fees. The first mistreat is finding the correct lawyer. In this event, that means one who has expertness, is a beneficial communicator, charges a clean price — and is bequeath to receive requital over prison term. Ask any lawyer you ’ re considering about the possibility during your initial meet. payment plans vary ; some lawyers allow you to spread payments over six months, others three months. Most will want payments completed before filing your sheath : Since chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most of your debts, you wouldn ’ triiodothyronine be legally obligated to pay your lawyer any great fees after filing. That ’ s just not a sustainable occupation plan. But you can inactive get some benefit, even while you ’ re making the payments, Hargrave says. Once you officially hire a lawyer, he or she can take calls from creditors on your behalf. When you discuss setting up a payment plan, ask how much of the fee you must pay before the lawyer will begin taking calls. “ When people hire a bankruptcy lawyer, they know the fear of going to the postbox, the reverence of what earphone call is going to come next — that evaporates when you hire an lawyer, ” Hargrave says. “ That ’ s a huge benefit for people. ” late, your lawyer can work with the court to set up a payment design for your bankruptcy charge fee. The $ 335 fee can be split into a many as four payments.

3. Go Pro Bono

You might qualify for rid legal services or waived fees if your income is less than 150 % of the poverty horizontal surface for your family size and you ’ re unable to afford a payment design. There are a few ways to find a pro bono lawyer. First, ask your local bankruptcy court for information about free legal clinics and local spare legal aid resources. If you meet their guidelines, these organizations might be able to offer some aid or connect you with pro bono bankruptcy attorneys. But be prepared : Legal care organizations are much underfunded and overworked. silent, it ‘s fresh to get on the waiting list with one while you continue to pursue other options. The National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys has a search cock to help you find attorneys in your area. You can besides reach out to your state ’ s cake association. Some firms require attorneys to make pro bono work 10 % to 15 % of their caseloads. But preceptor ’ triiodothyronine clean an lawyer merely because he or she is release. last, you can hire a prayer preparer rather of an lawyer if you ’ re in a travel rapidly to file. He or she will help you fill out your paperwork for an hourly fee that can be deoxyadenosine monophosphate broken as $ 70. A prayer preparer can ’ thyroxine give you the legal advice that an lawyer can provide, but this is an choice if you fair want to file your bankruptcy in order to trigger the “ automatic rifle stay ” that halts collection efforts.

What about DIY?

If you ’ ra intelligent of filing on your own, without any legal aid, Hargrave has one piece of advice : Don ’ triiodothyronine.

“ There ’ s a hazard in doing a bankruptcy by yourself, ” he says. “ even if you ’ re a knowing, joint person, the law still has a set of jargoon and technical stuff that you, without aid of a lawyer, could screw up. ” lone about 1.4 % of chapter 13 bankruptcy cases filed in 2012 without an lawyer received a exhaust, meaning the cases were resolved and debts forgive, federal bankruptcy data shows. Making a mistake on your paperwork can lead the court to throw out your case, wasting the attempt and money you ’ ve frame into it .

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