Have you recently experienced financial hardship? Are you trying to understand the cost of filing for bankruptcy? If so, you aren’t alone! Bankruptcy is a heavy decision, and knowing just how much it can cost is something you will want to consider before moving forward.
We know how important it is to have all the information possible about how much bankruptcy may cost, so this article will outline the costs of both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you’d like to learn more specific information on bankruptcy costs in your area, consider reaching out to a local bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation. As we have stated earlier, the cost of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is hugely important to understand whether you would like to file bankruptcy.
1. Understand Fixed and Variable Costs of Filing Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy has two main types of costs: Variable and Fixed. Fixed costs tend to be administrative fees while variable costs tend to be the attorney fees and other costs that change from case to case. This is important to keep in mind while going through this article. While we do our best to give an accurate estimate, the only cost we can guarantee is the fixed costs, which are typically decided on by the US Courts. The variable costs we can estimate, but they may be slightly different depending on your case.
Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Considerations
The two most common forms of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. There are a few differences between the two forms of bankruptcy, which we will cover throughout the rest of the article. One major difference to note, however, is that you must qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Taking the Chapter 7 means test will allow you to understand whether you qualify for Chapter 7. We will cover the rest of the differences in price and duration in the following sections.
2. How much does it cost to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
In this section, we will cover the specific costs of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In most cases, you will want to file for bankruptcy with an attorney, so we will include this cost in the estimate. Please remember that this is an estimate and, aside from the fixed costs, prices will vary based on your specific circumstance.
1. Bankruptcy Attorneys’ Fees
Bankruptcy attorney costs tend to be the highest when filing for bankruptcy. An average cost for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney will fall between $500 and $3,000. There are a variety of factors that will determine what your attorney will cost, so make sure you speak with a local attorney to better estimate what you will end up paying.
Luckily, there are many attorneys that offer payments plans so that you can still file bankruptcy without having the payment upfront. Also, important to note is that you are not legally required to file bankruptcy with an attorney. While this will help you save costs upfront, there is a chance that you could end up losing money from the bankruptcy process.
2. Credit Report Fees
When filling out your bankruptcy forms, you will have to report every creditor you are working with, along with all other financial information. In order to have a completely accurate history of your credit, you will need to access your credit report.
Luckily, you are able to access free copies of your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies. However, if you have previously accessed these reports within the past 12 months, you may have to purchase copies of an updated credit report. This can amount to additional charges.
3. Bankruptcy Court Filing Fee
The bankruptcy court filing fee is a fixed cost, and it is currently $335. You should also expect to pay a small fee to the Bankruptcy Trustee, which could be between $15-20. The breakdown of what the $335 covers is pictured below:
If this cost is too much for your situation, you can apply to have the fee waived. However, this will depend on your financial situation and you will have to qualify before having it waived. If you do not qualify for the waived fee, then you can apply to pay the fee in installments.
4. Credit Counseling Course and Debtor Education Course
Before filing for bankruptcy, it is required that you take a credit counseling course. The course must be completed within 180 days of filing for bankruptcy for the course to be valid. These courses can last anywhere from 60-90 minutes.
The class will typically cost somewhere between $10-50 depending on which company you use. There should be a list of approved companies you can work with. You can go through the list and shop around for the best price.
Like the filing fee, there is a potential that you could have the counseling course fee waived depending on your financial situation.
Once you have filed and begun your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, you will have to complete another debtor education course. Like the credit counseling course, the course must be taken with an approved company.
While some courses allow you to have the fee waived, most courses will cost between $10 and $50.
4. Final Costs
There are other costs that may not be accounted for in a general estimate. There are other miscellaneous costs to consider. When filling out your paperwork, there is a possibility you will have to pay for copies of paperwork, postage when mailing out paperwork, and possibly travel costs if you are no longer living in the area you are filing for bankruptcy in. Other potential costs include parking fees and other costs associated with attending hearings.
3. How Much Are Attorney Bankruptcy Costs In Each State?
Each Chapter 7 attorney may charge a different range of fees in each state. Please see the list below that may provide insights into the bankruptcy cost in your state. Please note the figures are estimates and the sources are next to the figures for further information.
- Delaware ~$1400
- Vermont $400 – $900
- Montana $1399 – $1700
- New-Hampshire $1200 – $1500
- South-Dakota $1100 – $1400
- Wyoming $1100 – $1500
- Alaska $1100 – $1500
- Rhode-Island $1100 – $1500
- Maine $1100 – $1500
- Florida $1000 – $3000
- Colorado $800 – $2000
- Hawaii $1170 – $1500
- Kentucky $1170 – $2000
- Alabama $1170 – $1500
- North-Carolina $900 – $1550
- Texas $800 – $2000
- Washington $1000 – $2000
- Wisconsin $1100 – $1500
- District-of-Columbia ~$1800
- Oregon $1170 – $1500
- Iowa $1170 – $1500
- Nebraska $800 – $1200
- Mississippi $1170 – $1500
- New-Jersey $1000 – $2800
- New-Mexico $1170 – $2000
- Oklahoma $800 – $1500
- South-Carolina $1000 – $2800
- Massachusetts $1150 – $2500
- Arizona $925 – $1500
- Arkansas $800 – $1500
- California $900 – $2000
- Connecticu t$1150 – $1650
- Georgia $1000 – $2000
- Idaho $1170 – $1500
- Illinois $1075 – $2000
- Indiana $1000 – $1400
- Kansas $1075 – $1500
- Louisiana $800 – $1500
- Maryland $899 – $2000
- Michigan $1000 – $1500
- Minnesota $1170 – $1450
- Missouri $1075 – $1400
- Nevada $1170 – $2000
- New York $1170 – $1950
- North Dakota $1170 – $1450
- Ohio $1090 – $1500
- Pennsylvania $1000 – $2000
- Tennessee $1000 – $1500
- Utah $1170 – $1500
- Virginia $800 – $1500
- West Virginia $1000 – $1500
4. How much does it cost to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy tends to cost more than Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 calculator can help you estimate the cost to file bankruptcy on a monthly basis. Chapter 13 bankruptcy tends to last longer and may have more involvement from a variety of entities. Because of this, it’s important to keep in mind how you are planning on stay on top of your bankruptcy pages.
Similar to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there will likely be other miscellaneous costs to keep in mind, like postage, printing, traveling, and parking.
Let’s take a look into the costs associated with Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
1. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
The attorney fee for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can fall anywhere between $2,500 to $6,000, depending on how long your bankruptcy case lasts. Often, your attorney payments will be put into a monthly payment plan.
The good thing about Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney costs is there is something called the “no-look” fee. The “no-look” fee requires Chapter 13 attorneys to offer a reasonable fee for debtors. This is in place to help protect debtors from outrageous sur-charges.
2. Filing Fees
The filing fee for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $310. Here is a breakdown of the costs:
3. Chapter 13 Trustee Fee
When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be assigned a bankruptcy trustee who will oversee your case. Part of your cost will be trustee fees. These fees will depend on how long your case remains open and active.
Luckily, these fees are included in the monthly payment plan that you create with your trustee and creditors, which can make the fees more attainable.
Let’s now discuss common alternatives to bankruptcy.
5. What are the alternatives to filing for bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy can be an overwhelming option to consider. Luckily, it isn’t your only option! There are alternatives that you may find better suited for your situation. For example, you can use this 11 word phrase to help stop debt collectors to give you time to consider your alternatives. Here are just a few of the bankruptcy alternatives you can consider:
Oftentimes, debt management is a common alternative to bankruptcy, and it involves compiling all the various debts you owe and then negotiating with your creditors to pay your debt off at a discounted price. Sometimes this is done in a lump sum, and sometimes this can be done for negotiating monthly payments. Debt management is typically done through Non-Profits with the help of credit counselors. Here is an outline of the debt management process:
- The firm you work with will create an account for you to compile your payments into a single monthly payment. After the payment is funded, the funds will be distributed to your creditors.
- You will notify the creditors that their main point of contact will be the debt management firm.
- Your debt management firm will negotiate interest rates and other relevant charges so that your monthly payments are more affordable.
- When every party is satisfied with the negotiated monthly payment, the plan will be confirmed.
- You and your debt management firm should carefully monitor your debt payments until the debt is fully paid off.
When you file for debt settlement, you will be working with a company (typically, a for-profit company). This debt settlement company will then approach your creditors for you and negotiate a lower payment after a period of non-payment. The goal is that the missed payments will make your creditors more likely to negotiate. Here is a quick overview of how the debt settlement process works:
- A bank account will be opened for you that will be separate from your other accounts. Sometimes, the debt settlement company will have access to this account. You will make monthly payments into the account so that you can pay off the creditors with the accumulated funds.
- Creditors will begin talking directly with your debt settlement company as their primary point of contact.
- Your debt settlement company will negotiate directly with your creditors.
- The debt settlement company will come to you for permission to finalize a negotiated payment.
- After confirmation, the debt settlement company will release the payment to your creditor.
Please note before pursuing this option that people have had negative experiences with debt relief and also there have been lawsuits against some debt relief companies. You may consider CFPB’s position on debt relief companies.
Estimate Your All-In Cost of Filing Bankruptcy
Before filing for bankruptcy, it’s important that you have a full picture of what costs you will have to pay. If you are at the point of needing to file for bankruptcy, it’s likely that you are already in a financially unstable situation. Knowing the costs will help you better plan for the process.
Using the fixed and variable costs associated with filing for bankruptcy, you can estimate the amount you may need to pay to file for bankruptcy. Having all of the information possible can help you make the best choice possible.
One comment on “How Much Does It Cost to File Bankruptcy? 5 Things to Know (Guest Post by Ben Tejes of Ascend Finance)”
Thank you for your thorough information, Ben! Filing for bankruptcy may be costly, which is why many people are afraid to do so. However, I think Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most cost-effective choice because costs can be reduced or waived. For example, your filing fee or bankruptcy court charge will be waived if you have no tangible assets. Also, if the matter is simple and uncomplicated, you can handle it without the aid of an attorney to save costs.