How can people filing for bankruptcy pay for attorneys? 17 Answers as of April 16, 2015

I am trying to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because I have almost $40,000 dollars of debt. I currently don’t have an income and passed the means test. Since I am so far in debt and have no income I don’t think I can hire a lawyer. But I have heard from some lawyers that if I try to go pro se or use Nolo books that I will get into trouble even though I think this bankruptcy is pretty straight forward. Is that true? How do people filing for bankruptcy with nothing usually pay their attorneys?

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GARCIA & GONZALES, P.C. | Richard N. Gonzales
Most people have an income of some sort. I have clients who will use a friend or family member's credit card to pay for the BK. They then make the monthly payments on that credit card after the BK is filed. If you are truly without income or assets, you are probably "judgment proof". In other words, assuming you get sued by your creditors, and assuming they get a judgment against you, there is no way to collect on the judgment since you have no income to garnish, and no assets to seize. Hope this helps.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 4/16/2015
Eranthe Law Firm
Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
Consider that bankruptcy law is so complex that many lawyers won't do it. It is the federal law, state law, federal rules and local bankruptcy district rules and customs all combined. Go see a local knowledgeable bankruptcy lawyer and discuss your situation. Many can work with you and have suggestions on how to pay for it. Where else could you discharge your debt for about 10% or less of the total?
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/15/2015
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
They normally make payments until the entire legal fee is paid or they can file pro se, which is never recommended.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/14/2015
A Fresh Start
A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
People who file bankruptcy pay for attorneys from their income, from gifts or loans from family or friends, and by stopping payments on debts. Most people who file bankruptcy are middle income earners, not the indigent. People who can?t afford a lawyer generally fall into two categories one, those who are judgment proof and can get by with needing bankruptcy at all, since creditors cannot hurt them, and two, those who do not understand what a bankruptcy attorney does.
Answer Applies to: Nevada
Replied: 4/14/2015
John W. Lee, P.C.
John W. Lee, P.C. | John W. Lee
Most bankruptcy attorneys offer payment plans to their clients. It is very easy to get into trouble by filing a bankruptcy without the assistance of counsel. If the bankruptcy forms are not filled out correctly a debtor could loose property, cash, bank accounts, personal injury settlements, and future tax refunds. In a worst case scenario, if the debtor does not fill out the schedules accurately then the bankruptcy may be dismissed or the debtor may be prosecuted for bankruptcy crimes. Most bankruptcy attorneys offer a free consultation, you should meet with several and see if you can find one that will work with you.
Answer Applies to: Virginia
Replied: 4/14/2015
    Ronald K. Nims LLC | Ronald K. Nims
    Most bankruptcy attorneys have a lower rate for people with no income. But on the other hand, people with no income and no prospects of an income don't generally need a bankruptcy. If you have no assets and no paycheck, what can your creditors do? They can't seize assets you don't have. Generally, it's people that have had a period of unemployment that are now getting a job where bankruptcy makes sense. And it's a lot easier to pay an attorney for bankruptcy than live with garnishments on your paycheck.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
    If you qualify for pro bono counsel then you do not need to pay an attorney. Or, you could seek the assistance of family and friends to pay for your legal fees.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 4/14/2015
    Garner Law Office
    Garner Law Office | Daniel Garner
    Many people in your circumstances go to Legal Aid and get their bankruptcy done for free by volunteer lawyers. It may be worth your time to find out if you qualify.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    It is possible tom use the Nolo books if you have no significant assets. Some lawyers charge more than others. You can shop around or use the book. Lawyers need to get paid to keep the office open. I am always amused when people think we can work for free.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    If you cannot pay an attorney you might try a volunteers lawyers organization who do pro bono work.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Freeman Law Group, LLC
    Freeman Law Group, LLC | Derek Freeman
    This is always a problem. People who need to file bankruptcy are in financial trouble, and when you're in financial trouble it's hard to come up with a hefty fee to hire an attorney. If you can't afford an attorney, your options are pretty limited. You can file on your own, by going to the bankruptcy court's website and downloading all the forms you need. The court will charge a filing fee ($335 as of the date of this answer) to file your case. If you can't afford the filing fee, you can apply for a fee waiver or authorization to pay the fee in installments. But if your income is more than 150% of the poverty line, the court will deny your request. If you don't want to file your case on your own, you can hire a bankruptcy petition preparer. Their prices are much lower than attorneys, but they can't give any legal advice - this means that they cannot help you in the preparation of the bankruptcy petition, in any way. Basically, they are only allowed to fill out the forms. So you might find yourself in exactly the same situation you would be in if you had filed on your own, except your bankruptcy forms will be filled out nice and neat. Your last option is to save up until you have enough money to hire an attorney. That's really your best option. An attorney can give you legal advice, help you avoid all the pitfalls and mistakes you could have made on your own, and make sure you get the most out of your bankruptcy. If most of your debt is unsecured, you can simply stop making the monthly payments on these unsecured loans until you save up enough for the attorney's fee - since these debts are going to be discharged in the bankruptcy anyway, there's really no point in paying them.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    Many people filing for BK don't have nothing, they have significant assets that can still be retained if they hire an attorney that knows the law and applies it cleverly. If you don't know the law you certainly can run into issues. And if you are so far in debt and have nothing it might also be totally unnecessary to file since you might already be "judgment proof" from a practical standpoint. You should at least consult an attorney before you file.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Michael J. Duggar, P.A.
    Michael J. Duggar, P.A. | Michael J. Duggar
    Many finance their attorneys when they stop paying their creditors and take the monies devoted to paying these creditors and pay their attorney. I've had some clients take almost a year but it can be done. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC
    Musilli Brennan Associates PLLC | John F Brennan
    They normally have some income or assets with which to pay the bill.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C.
    Law Office of J. Thomas Black, P.C. | J. Thomas Black
    If you are flat broke, you may want to apply for free legal help through legal aid. Here in Houston area it is the Houston Volunteer Lawyer's Program (HVLP) or Lone Star Legal Aid. It can take a while to get free legal help, and you must qualify. Otherwise, some of our clients have their friends or relatives pay the fee. Or, they make payments to us until the fee is paid in full.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter
    Law Offices of Daniel J Winter | Daniel J Winter
    Yes, it is worth the money to use a lawyer; it would cost way more to try to fix your case if it isn't done right. Either people have friends or family help pay, or they pay monthly on the fee. The other option is to wait until you have a job, and then file, so you can pay the attorney something each payday.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 4/13/2015
    Bensamochan & Poghosyan LLP | Eric Bensamochan
    Depending on where you live, and depending on the local branch of the United States Bankruptcy Court, many have self help desks available to assist you in filing your petition and schedules.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 4/13/2015
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