It stands to reason that you're kind of broke if you're filing bankruptcy – or at least in need of a break from the creditors. But bankruptcy isn't cheap, and if it’s designed for those without the money to handle a large amount of debt, then why isn't it free to file? Let's take a look at how much it may cost, and why these fees might just be the best use of what money you may have.
Lawyer Up, or Go it Alone?
A lot of the additional costs associated with bankruptcy come in the form of attorney fees. While you can file pro se (on your own), the success rate going through a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney isn't great. In fact, according to natlbankruptcy.com, the dismissal rate for pro se bankruptcy filings in Los Angeles alone is double that of cases filed with a lawyer. That may not sound too bad – until you learn that there are four times as many attorney-filed cases as pro se cases.
So, since the success rate of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases filed with a lawyer is significantly higher compared to those filed without one, it’s obvious the cost of retaining an attorney is worth it. But just how much is it going to cost? According to lawyers.com, the average cost of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2018 was $1,450, but, in all actuality, the cost could range from $500 to $5,000.
Most lawyers charge a flat fee – or fixed rate – to cover the preparation of bankruptcy paperwork and to attend the court hearing, but many also take into account the difficulty of a case before coming up with a charge. If you do lawyer up, know that attorney fees vary by lawyer and state.
Even without attorney fees, bankruptcy still costs. The average fee for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the US is $335, but that's just for the paperwork. There are also fees for credit counseling, which is required in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.
If you're interested in filing bankruptcy, but don't feel like you have the money, there are ways to get the help you need without breaking the bank. When you need advice on filing, you can take advantage of your local legal aid office, or a free consultation from a lawyer. Often, these lawyers can help you decide how to pay court costs and/or attorney fees if you decide to go through with the bankruptcy.
Some options for helping with the costs are:
- Borrow the money to pay the fees from family or friends
- Get assistance from a pro bono (free) lawyer
- Stop paying unsecured debts that would get wiped out in bankruptcy in order to pay your fees
Though these ways may serve their purpose, be careful and weigh all the options before making any moves.
Keeping Up with Your Cost of Living
Something you need to remember about a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it's a short process, generally lasting only four to six months, and that you can't always keep you property, such as a house or car. If you need a vehicle for your job, you have to make sure to reaffirm or reinstate your loan – other things you might want a lawyer to help you with.
Once your bankruptcy is discharged, however, it's a great time to begin rebuilding your credit with a car loan. Here at Auto Credit Express, we work with a nationwide network of special finance dealers that have the lending resources available to help even after you've been through bankruptcy. Don't hesitate to use our help – fill out our free, no-obligation auto loan request form to get started right now!