Understanding Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be confusing to individuals looking for debt relief. Another confusing topic is the cost of bankruptcy.
The cost of filing bankruptcy is one of the most common reasons why people do not meet with a bankruptcy lawyer. Unfortunately, the concern about cost keeps many people from discovering how affordable a bankruptcy may be compared to their current financial situation.
Filing for bankruptcy relief can be one of the quickest, most affordable ways to get out of debt.
As you read the information, keep in mind that filing bankruptcy could get rid of thousands of dollars in debt for a fraction of what you owe to your creditors. It also gives you the fresh start you need.
How Much Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cost?
The highest cost for filing bankruptcy is the Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fees. Factors that could impact the amount charged by a Chapter 7 attorney include:
● The complexity of the case
● Whether there are issues that will need to be litigated
● You have non-exempt assets
● The size of the case
● Whether the case is an individual case or a business case
● The location of the attorney’s office
The average attorney fee for a personal Chapter 7 case is between $1,000 to $1,250. Again, this is a national average. The cost to hire a Chapter 7 attorney near you could be lower or higher.
Do Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorneys Take Payments for Chapter 7?
Some Chapter 7 attorneys may take payments for Chapter 7. They allow a client to make monthly payments toward the Chapter 7 attorney fees. However, most attorneys will not file the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition until all attorney fees are paid.
Miscellaneous Chapter 7 Costs
In addition to the attorney fees, you must pay a filing fee to the court of $335. You must also pay for your bankruptcy courses. The Credit Counseling Course and the Debtor Education Course can cost between $10 to $50. There are many court-approved companies to choose from, so shop around for the lowest fee.
Low-income individuals may qualify to have the court filing fee and bankruptcy course fees waived. If you cannot waive the filing fee, you might be eligible to pay the fee in installments to the court.
Is There Another Option if I Cannot Afford a Chapter 7 Attorney?
If you cannot afford to hire a Chapter 7 trustee, you may find an attorney to file Chapter 13 with zero money down for attorney fees. A $0 down Chapter 13 case means that you pay the entire Chapter 13 attorney fees through the Chapter 13 plan. However, that also means you must make payments to the Chapter 13 trustee each month to repay your creditors.
How Much Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cost?
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is a court-monitored debt repayment plan. It can last 3 or 5 years. In some cases, your Chapter 13 plan payment can be less expensive than your current debt obligations. In other cases, you may actually have to pay back a 100 percent plan where you pay back all your unsecured debts in addition to the fees below.
Each month, you pay a Chapter 13 trustee who distributes the money to your creditors according to your confirmed Chapter 13 plan. Most debtors only pay a small percentage of the unsecured debts they owe to their creditors.
Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
Because Chapter 13 cases are much more complicated and require more work, the attorney fees for a Chapter 13 case are higher than a Chapter 7 case. The average Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney charges $2500 – $7500 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. However, you may not need to pay the entire attorney’s fee upfront to file the Chapter 13 case.
Many Chapter 13 attorneys charge a portion of their fees upfront. The remaining Chapter 13 attorney fees are paid through the Chapter 13 plan. By putting their attorney fees in the Chapter 13 plan, the attorney makes it more affordable for a person to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy relief.
Chapter 13 Trustee Fees
In addition to the attorneys’ fees, you are also responsible for paying the Chapter 13 trustee fees. The fees are paid through your Chapter 13 plan, so most debtors do not pay attention to these fees.
A Chapter 13 trustee can charge a fee of up to 10 percent for their services. The fee is based on the money collected and disbursed by the trustee’s office. Therefore, the higher your plan payment, the larger fee the Chapter 13 trustee collects.
As with a Chapter 7 case, you must pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court for your Chapter 13 case. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee is $313. Because you are in a repayment plan, it is unlikely that you would qualify for a waiver of the Chapter 13 filing fee.
You must also complete your bankruptcy courses. The bankruptcy courses are the same for a Chapter 13 case and a Chapter 7 case. Therefore, you can expect to pay between $10 to $50 for the bankruptcy courses. Make sure to shop around for the lowest fee.
The cost to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a confusing topic. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often the least expensive debt relief option. As such, you can often get discharged from debt in about 120 days. A Chapter 13 can be more expensive and can last 3 or 5 years, so many people look for tips and tricks to help them reach bankruptcy discharge. Hopefully, this article can help you understand what are the different costs to make you the most informed for which decision is right for you.
Author Biography: Ben Tejes is the co-founder and CEO of Ascend Finance, which educates individuals on the differences between financial hardship options such as bankruptcy, debt settlement, debt management, and debt payoff planning.