Many people do not explore bankruptcy as a debt relief option because they do not believe they can afford to file for bankruptcy relief. However, there are some cheap ways to file bankruptcy that can make it an even more affordable debt relief option. If you want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but you are afraid you cannot afford to file a bankruptcy case, these cheap ways to file Chapter 7 might help.
1. Shop Around for a Bankruptcy Attorney
First, you may want to take our attorney fee calculator to see what the potential rate may be in your area. Call several Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys near you and ask about their Chapter 7 attorneys’ fees. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. You can meet with as many attorneys as you want to compare attorneys’ fees for filing Chapter 7.
2. Find an Attorney With an Installment Plan Before Filing Chapter 7
Some bankruptcy lawyers offer installment plans before filing Chapter 7. The attorney’s office handles telephone calls from your creditors and begins working on your bankruptcy forms while you pay weekly or monthly payments to the law firm. When you pay the fees and costs in full, the law firm files your bankruptcy case.
3. Find an Attorney With an Installment Plan After Filing Chapter 7
This option is harder to find as many attorneys require payment in full before filing a Chapter 7 case. The reason is that an attorney’s fees are discharged through the Chapter 7 case. Therefore, attorneys are more cautious about accepting payments for attorneys’ fees after they do the work to file the bankruptcy case.
4. Request a Waiver of the Filing Fee and Cost of Bankruptcy Courses
Depending on your income level, you might qualify for a waiver of the Chapter 7 filing fee. In the alternative, you might qualify to pay the Chapter 7 filing fee in installments. To do this, you must file an application to waive a bankruptcy filing fee (Bankruptcy Official Form B 3A) with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
You may also qualify for a waiver of the fees for both bankruptcy courses. You must work directly with the company providing your Credit Counseling Course and Debtor Education Course to determine if you qualify to waive these bankruptcy costs.
5. File Chapter 7 Without an Attorney
You are not required to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to file a Chapter 7 case. Some individuals choose to file bankruptcy without an attorney. There are many resources available online if you choose to file Chapter 7 without a lawyer.
We provide an overview of the Chapter 7 process and a Chapter 7 calculator on our website. We also provide information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in our bankruptcy blog. You can also find information about filing without an attorney from the United States Courts. Local bankruptcy courts often have information on their website about filing bankruptcy without an attorney. You can search online or call the local bankruptcy Clerk of Court’s Office.
Nolo has a guide to filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy you can purchase online. It is not considered legal advice, but it is advertised as a step-by-step guide for filing Chapter 7. However, bankruptcy rules and bankruptcy laws change. The official bankruptcy forms and the information used to calculate the Means Test also change periodically. It is important that you ensure you are using the most up-to-date information available if you decide to file Chapter 7 without an attorney.
6. Request Free Legal Aid
Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for legal aid. If you qualify for legal aid, you are assigned an attorney who helps you with your bankruptcy case. Many states have a Pro Bono program through the state’s Bar Association. Other states have legal aid offices you can contact.
7. Borrow Money from a Friend or Family Member
Some individuals borrow money from a friend or family member to cover the costs of filing Chapter 7. However, be very careful. You cannot repay your friend or family member before filing Chapter 7 or during your Chapter 7 case. You may be required to disclose the debt on your Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. The debts owed to friends and family members are typically discharged through your Chapter 7 case. However, if you choose to repay this debt after your Chapter 7 case is closed, you could do so.
Be Careful If You File Chapter 7 Without an Attorney
If you decide to file bankruptcy without an attorney, you need to be cautious. When you file under Chapter 7, you may not be able to dismiss your case voluntarily. If the Chapter 7 trustee determines that your property may be sold to repay your debts, you might not be able to stop the process.
You may want to consider filing Chapter 13. Most bankruptcy attorneys include a majority of their attorneys’ fees in the Chapter 13 plan. You may also want to explore bankruptcy alternatives for debt relief.
Compare Your Debt Relief Options with Ascend
Ascend allows you to compare debt-relief options, including bankruptcy and debt settlement. You can take our Chapter 7 means test calculator which allows you to estimate whether you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and how much it may cost.