If you cannot afford to pay your debts, you might qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy process gives people who are struggling financially a legal way to eliminate debts. However, you must qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7. Our blog, “How To Pass The Means Test For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy,” discusses the income requirements for Chapter 7 in detail.
We also provide information about how the Means Test is calculated and tips for passing the Means Test. You can also use our free Chapter 7 bankruptcy calculator to see if you might qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7.
If you qualify for Chapter 7, there are fees that you will need to pay to file a bankruptcy case. Generally, the following fees are required to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case:
1. Bankruptcy Attorneys’ Fees
The average attorneys’ fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney is between $950 and $1,500 for a consumer bankruptcy. A business Chapter 7 could cost between $2,000 and $5,000. Attorneys’ fees for bankruptcy cases depend on a variety of factors, including where the attorney is located, the attorney’s experience level, and the complexity of the bankruptcy case.
Many Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers offer payment plans so that you can afford to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. They also offer free consultations. You can meet with several Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers to find one that offers a payment plan and the fee that you can afford.
You are not required to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you with a Chapter 7 filing. While there are many advantages of hiring a bankruptcy attorney to advise you about your legal rights and options, you can file bankruptcy without an attorney.
2. Credit Counseling Fees
Consumer debtors must complete a credit counseling course before filing bankruptcy. The course must be completed within 180 days before filing the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Courses are available online, in person, and by telephone. However, you must use a company that has been approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. In most cases, the course can be completed online in about 90 minutes to an hour.
On Average, most companies charge between $10 and $50 for the credit counseling course. You can shop around from the list of approved companies to find a company that has the lowest rate. All courses must contain the same basic information.
If you meet specific income requirements, the fee for the credit counseling course may be waived. Each company has a process for requesting a fee waiver.
3. Credit Report Fees
You must list all your creditors on your bankruptcy forms. It is generally a good idea to review your credit reports to make sure that all creditors and collection agencies are included in your bankruptcy forms. You can obtain free copies of your credit reports from all three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months.
4. Bankruptcy Court Filing Fee
The bankruptcy court charges a filing fee. It is standard in all Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, regardless of the size of the case or whether the case is an individual, joint, or business case. The total filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is $335, which includes a $75 administrative fee and a $15 fee for the Chapter 7 Trustee.
You can apply to have the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee waived. The waiver of the bankruptcy fee is based on your income. Your household income must be less than 150 percent of the official poverty line at the time of filing.
If you do not meet the income requirements to waive the Chapter 7 filing fee, you may request an installment schedule. You must file a form requesting to pay the filing fee in installments. If the bankruptcy court approves the installment request, you may be able to pay the filing fee in four installments. The filing fee must be paid in full before you can receive your bankruptcy discharge.
5. Debtor Education Course
After you file your Chapter 7 petition, you must complete a second bankruptcy course. The debtor education course must also be taken from an approved company. Most companies offer courses online, in-person, and by telephone. If you do not complete the debtor education course and file your certificate of completion before the deadline, the court can deny your bankruptcy discharge.
As with the credit counseling courses, the fees for the debtor education course vary from around $10 to $50. Many companies offer both courses at a discount if you use the same company to complete both courses.
You may also waive the fee for the debtor education course if your income is below a certain level. Check with the company about its procedure for requesting a fee waiver.
6. Miscellaneous Costs
There could be miscellaneous costs associated with filing Chapter 7. For example, if you file your Chapter 7 case without an attorney, you are responsible for the copy costs and postage costs when you are required to send documents to your creditors. You may also incur travel expenses and parking fees when you go to the courthouse to file your bankruptcy forms or postage if you mail the forms.
You will need to attend at least one bankruptcy hearing, the 341 First Meeting of Creditors. Depending on where you live, the mileage to the hearing location could be significant. Also, you may have parking fees during the hearing.
Estimate the Fees In Your Area Using the Attorney Fee Calculator
If you want to explore your Chapter 7 bankruptcy options, Ascend built an Attorney Fee Calculator to help you estimate the total fees for either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in your area. We can also help you explore other debt-relief options if you are unsure whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is right for you.
Call our office at 833-272-3631 if you have questions or want to discuss how we can help you get out of debt.