What are my options if I cannot afford to pay for bankruptcy? 26 Answers as of June 26, 2013

I have so much debt and can really not afford to pay for the bankruptcy file. I have no idea what else I can do at this point, because I really need my debt to be covered. How can I file for bankruptcy without having to pay any excessive fees?

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Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
Try applying for a waiver.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/24/2011
Ross Smith, Attorney at Law
Ross Smith, Attorney at Law | Charles Ross Smith III
Ask yourself these questions, "If my creditors garnish my wages, how will I pay my rent and car payment? If they repo my car, can I get to work?" If you don't have wages or a car, stop worrying. You have no reason to file for the protection of Bankruptcy Court. I assume you have no savings and no home to put liens up against. If you are truly judgment proof, all that your creditors can do is howl. Of course that can be unpleasant. If you are not judgment proof, then you will need a bankruptcy attorney. If you have wages, car or home to protect, then you need to see an experienced bankruptcy. Many charge no fee for an initial consultation. You will find that bankruptcy attorneys are a usually good value for your money. We can discharge many thousands of dollars in debt for a very small fee that we work hard to earn. Experienced bankruptcy attorneys usually cost no more than general practitioners. Good luck. Thank you for reading me. I hope you found this answer to be helpful. This answer is not intended to create an attorney/client relationship. It is general information that should be discussed with your own attorney. Because the law in other jurisdictions is different and the facts of each case are different, consumers cannot rely on the opinions expressed here.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/18/2011
Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law
Eric J. Benzer, Attorney at Law | Eric Benzer
Ask for waiver of filing fees.
Answer Applies to: Maryland
Replied: 8/18/2011
Law Offices of Virginia E. Fortunato
Law Offices of Virginia E. Fortunato | Virginia E. Fortunato
Have you tried to apply for a *pro bono* attorney through Legal Services? Many debtors think they cannot afford to file bankruptcy. If your income is low enough you may qualify for a free attorney and waiver of Court fees. If your income is not low enough to qualify then you should consult with an attorney and set-up with a payment plan with them. However, please note attorneys will not and for various reasons sometimes need to be paid in-full prior to filing. Do not give up!
Answer Applies to: New Jersey
Replied: 8/17/2011
Lehn Law, PA
Lehn Law, PA | Joseph W. Lehn
When I have a consult with someone with a very simple bankruptcy case, many times I will quote a lower than normal fees considering I will have to invest less time in the preparation of the case. Many attorneys will allow you time to make monthly payments, even if small, until the retainer is paid in full. Also, if your income is under the US Poverty Level the Court may waive your $299 Chapter 7 filing fee.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/17/2011
    Do it yourself and petition to waive court fee.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/26/2013
    Burnham & Associates
    Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
    It is ironic that a process designed to get you out of financial trouble can be expensive. There is a filing fee ($299 for a Chapter 7; $274 for a Chapter 13) the Chapter 7 fee can be waived if you can show hardship by filing an Application for Waiver of the Filing Fee. Credit Counseling will cost you $50, some companies will waive that fee if you ask and if you can show hardship to them. The Financial Management Certificate is also $50 and they may waive it if you ask. The largest expense is the attorney's fees. Some attorneys will allow for you to pay over time, but we cannot file your Bankruptcy until you pay in full. The reason is that our fees are also dischargeable in Bankruptcy. If you can wait a bit longer you can pay the attorney overtime until the fee is paid in full. This will only work if the attorney is willing to allow this type of arrangement.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Financial Relief Law Center
    Financial Relief Law Center | Mark Alonso
    The filing fee for a ch. 7 is $299 and for a 13 it's about $250. If you do the bankruptcy yourself, the filing fee for your chapter would be the only "fee" associated with it. You can contact a free legal clinic for advice or obtain the forms from the court house and represent yourself in the filling. Many people can successfully complete their own ch. 7 filing. If you run into complications, then I would suggest speaking with an attorney but you can probably get yourself some assistance with some self help resources.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    Shop around. My fee is $900.00 plus $299.00 court fee for a basic consumer Chapter 7. That includes any reaffirmation agreements you may need.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Heupel Law
    Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
    The best way to pay for an attorney is to stop paying the debt that will get discharged and put it towards your attorney fees. Also, look to change your budget or borrow the money from friends and family. Remember that the attorney fees will get you out of the debt without any tax consequences so the attorney fees will always be a good value.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Eranthe Law Firm
    Eranthe Law Firm | Cate Eranthe
    If you qualify for a fee waiver there are forms for that and you may need to attend an additional hearing for approval. Also check your local legal aid for a bankruptcy clinic or other help.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Charles Schneider, P.C.
    Charles Schneider, P.C. | Charles J. Schneider
    I don't know why you feel you can't afford an attorney. Without knowing your income it's hard to say what options you may have. I, as an attorney charge a client according to several factors. One of those factors is how much income the client has and I have adjusted my fees accordingly. One option is to stop paying your debt and save the debt payments to pay your attorney. The attorney would just be discharging a bigger number. Why would you believe a fee is excessive? Compared to what? If in fact may not wish to pay an attorney at all may leave you without options.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    The Salas Firm
    The Salas Firm | Ron Salas
    You can complete the paper work on your own for free. Here is the website to get the forms http://www.cob.uscourts.gov/forms.asp . The only fee that you will have to pay is the $299.00 filing fee unless you qualify for the fees to be waived (very difficult). I would just warn you that if you do not know what you are doing it is very easy to make an error that will cost you more than what it would cost to have a professional help you. Good Luck.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy
    Dan Wilson Bankruptcy | Dan Wilson
    You cannot afford not to pay for bankruptcy. If you are really have low income contact legal aid or Metro Volunteer lawyers. They might be able to hook you up with an attorney who will do your case on a no-fee or low-fee basis. In addition, some attorneys will give a discount for seniors on a fixed income. But you need an attorney. I have seen many problems with even "simple" Chapter 7 cases. Look at it this way: You are discharging debt, you don't have to make minimum payments on credit cards.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Office of Michael Johnson
    Law Office of Michael Johnson | Michael Johnson
    Some attorneys have payment plans.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Rosenberg & Press
    Rosenberg & Press | Max L. Rosenberg
    Payment plans. Waiver of filing fee. Thanks for tuning in.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    If you cannot afford to pay a lawyer then you have a choice of doing it yourself (which is not recommended) or waiting until your financial situation improves and can afford a lawyer. If your financial situation is so bad then you are probably judgment-proof (nothing creditors can take from you) and would not be harmed financially by waiting until you can afford a lawyer. Legal fees charged for bankruptcy cases are very low compared to other legal cases and there is substantial competition for clients.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    Look for an attorney who can take your case, allow you to make payments until you pay the attorney's fees and costs and will take creditor calls to keep them at bay until you have paid. Or you can try to file yourself and apply for a fee waiver with the bankruptcy court.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    Since pro se cases usually are a disaster, save up and get a lawyer. If you shop around you can find Chapter 7 lawyers who charge under $1000 plus court costs for a simple chapter 7.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Ray Fisher Law Offices
    Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
    It depends on what you mean by having the debt covered. If you cannot afford to file then either simply do not pay the debt or figure out how to pay it slowly and systematically. How can I file for bankruptcy without having to pay any excessive fees? Lawyers are not allowed to charge excessive fees.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/17/2011
    Lewis Adams and Associates
    Lewis Adams and Associates | Lewis P. Adams
    Although I am a bankruptcy, my advice is that you need to have the assistance of an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. Depending on your situation, filing fees can be waived. Attorney fees in bankruptcy, are fees usually well spent.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    Often persons filing bankruptcy do not have resources to pay atttorney fees. You might ask relatives, friends or even your employer to help. Also,there are some pro bono clinics operated by local bar associations or law schools. You might check out using a non-attorney bankruptcy preparer, whose fees are limited, usually to about $150. There are self help books such as the ones published by Nolo Press.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc.
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc. | Kevin Ryan
    most bankruptcy attorneys will be willing to set you up on a payment plan for the attorney fees. However, you should not expect a professional person, or anyone for that matter, to work for free. Keep in mind that the fees in most instances must be paid before your case is filed, and that additional fees can be charged after the case is filed for supplemental legal services.
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    Lawyers' fees aren't excessive. In fact, we usually lose money based on all we do. Compare what you owe with what we'll help you discharge and you'll see what I mean. Doing it yourself can cause problems, including denial of discharge and even prison. BK petition preparers are no better than doing it yourself, and debt consolidation firms charge twice as much as we do and do nothing to help and only push you to Bankruptcy later. Also, don't look for the cheapest attorney, who may not know what he's doing and/or may be running n assembly line. That being said, you may qualify for legal aid, or some lawyers may reduce their fee if you're as broke as you say and others will take payments, often over 90 days.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Guardian Law Group PLLC
    Guardian Law Group PLLC | C. David Hester
    If you truly are indigent you can go to your local chapter of the state bar that performs pro bono work. Here in Utah its called Utah Legal Services. They will look at your income to determine if you truly qualify for free legal services. But you may not qualify, in that case you can file your own bankruptcy Pro Se, and represent yourself. But you may find that if you are not paying your creditors you can then afford competent counsel to represent you.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 8/16/2011
    Melinda Murphy Dionne, PC
    Melinda Murphy Dionne, PC | Melinda Murphy Dionne
    You can try contacting Legal Services or the Alabama State Bar. They may be able to provide you with free legal help. Most bankruptcy attorneys will work with you to let you pay your fee and expenses over time. The expenses to file a case are approximately $400. Many times the money to pay your fees comes from payments you are currently making to your creditors. When you decide to file bankruptcy, you stop paying your unsecured creditors and you use that money to pay for your bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 8/16/2011
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