Which bankruptcy chapter is the least expensive? 28 Answers as of August 11, 2011

I need to file for bankruptcy, but I don't want to pay too many extra fees. Does each file vary in price or will I have to go with a specific chapter based on my situation?

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Ross Smith, Attorney at Law
Ross Smith, Attorney at Law | Charles Ross Smith III
You have asked a big question. So I have attached a big answer. You will find that most bankruptcy attorneys in an area charge about the same, give or take $100.00. You will probably want a "flat rate" attorney with experience. Good luck. What We Charge For Bankruptcies The cost of a bankruptcy depends on what type of bankruptcy you choose to file and whether there are any special requirements for your particular situation. You should choose a bankruptcy attorney by their level of experience, skill in communication and the level of service they offer to clients. It usually costs about the same to hire an experienced bankruptcy as it does to hire a general practitioner that only files occasional bankruptcies. Fees vary a great deal from region to region. My practice is restricted to bankruptcy law and financial problems, such as foreclosure, Fair Debt Collections Practices violations, Fair Credit Reporting Practices violations and Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcies. I am a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) and I have over 30 years of experience. A Chapter 7 "straight" bankruptcy, which would discharge your debts, has court costs of $299.00 and attorney fees of $900.00 for the 1st person, plus $100.00 added for the spouse, if needed. In rare cases there are additional fees for a special situation such as a business or a redemption. We always quote our fees in writing and our fees are always a flat rate for specific legal services. We do not "low ball" fees and then raise them later. We also offer a special service to all of our clients. We stop creditor phone calls as soon as you retain us. When we are retained, we will have you advise creditors that you are represented by our firm. If a creditor calls you after that notice, we will immediately call that creditor and make them stop calling you. We do this automatically and at no extra charge. We also advise clients on how they can make payments to cover the cost of the bankruptcy and also how they can accumulate the funds to pay fees. Of course, some debts cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and others are only dischargeable under certain circumstances and with special procedures. Certain types of taxes, student loans, alimony and child support are examples of nondischargeable debts. We urge clients to see us even if they have nondischargeable debts. We can help determine if they are really nondischargeable and we can put them into a Chapter 13 Plan, if necessary. Chapter 13 Plans Chapter 13 Plans can be a powerful tool to get yourself protected from the IRS or student loan collectors. Its also useful if you are not eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In a Chapter 13 Plan you get the protection of the Bankruptcy Court while you pay off your bills at 0% over a 3 - 5 year period. In some cases, you can pay your creditors much less than 100% of what you owe. The court costs are $274.00 and the attorney fees are $1,300.00 for the first person and $100.00 for the spouse. The monthly or weekly payment to the plan is based upon your income and budget. It takes a payment ofas little as $325.00 to get started on a Chapter 13. On both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies we are happy to make arrangements for the client to pay us over time as we complete our work on the petition. Usually of the Chapter 13 attorney fee, or $650.00 -700.00 is paid through the Chapter 13 Plan after the case is filed. This part of the Chapter 13 fee is really coming from money set aside to pay your creditors. That's a big help. The latest bankruptcy reforms require debtors to get independent counseling before filing a Chapter 7 or a 13. This can be done easily in about one hour on the phone or the internet. The cost of the 2 counseling sessions is $36.00 and $24.00 respectively if you go to the places that I recommend. Your attorney will tell you when and where to get your counseling done. You should beware of non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparers and debt consolidators. You will find that they often take money up front and perform badly, if at all. They are rarely a good value for your money. Also beware of attorneys that quote low initial rates, but raise their fees later. Going into Bankruptcy Court with poor advice can cause you to lose property and money. Fees can be a complicated subject, so Im always happy to talk personally about fees with prospective clients. I'll talk to you at no charge and answer your questions about fees and whatever other things you may have on your mind. Please call to make an appointment to review your financial situation in person at no charge
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 8/11/2011
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC
Mercado & Hartung, PLLC | Christopher J. Mercado
ch 13 is less but i wouldn't base your filing on that
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 8/11/2011
The Law Offices of Kristy Qiu
The Law Offices of Kristy Qiu | Mengjun Qiu
Chapter 7 is cheaper than Chapter 13 because of the difference in attorney's fee. However, depending on your situation, the cheaper of the 2 might not be able to help you. You really should contact an attorney. First consultation is always free anyway. If you make less than $1,300 a month, you might qualify for Legal Aid help.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/10/2011
Law Office of Michael Johnson
Law Office of Michael Johnson | Michael Johnson
A chapter 7 is the least expensive, but you need to qualify for a chapter 7 and other chapters may have other benefits. You should contact an attorney to discuss your options.
Answer Applies to: Florida
Replied: 8/10/2011
Ethan Myers Law Firm PLLC
Ethan Myers Law Firm PLLC | Ethan Myers
A chapter 7 filing fee is just under $300. A chapter 13 filing fee is about $270. However if you make above the median average for the state, without having a lot of justifiable expenses that the average person doesn't have, (Like regular medical expenses) then you may be required to file a chapter 13 instead. A chapter 7 is a liquidation of you assets. it takes all of your non exempt assets, (a home stead is exempt as is up to $30,000 of personal property from various categories found in the property) and sells them to pay off your debts. The debts that remain unpaid after the funds have been distributed are wiped out and you get a fresh start (not including secured creditors who have a lien on property like a mortgage and not including some taxes). In a chapter 13. all disposable income is paid to a trustee for the next 3-5 years until all past debts are paid off-making sure that any unsecured creditors get at least as much as they would have gotten had you filed for chapter 7. In addition to the filing fee for a chapter 13 an (average) 5-10 percent trustee fee is collected by the trustee for every payment made by the debtor, before the proceeds of each payment is paid to crediors. So, while anyone has a right to file for a chapter 13-as long as they have enough disposable income to pay back their debts within 3-5 years, not everyone qualifies for a chapter 7. (those that make a large amount of money). Chapter 13 is often selected by individuals who have a lot of assects that are not exempt and that they don't want to lose. Because as stated above those assets would be sold off in a chapter 7.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 8/9/2011
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
    What you pay is largely based upon your circumstance.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Heupel Law
    Heupel Law | Kevin Heupel
    Unfortunately, it depends on your assets, debts, and income as to the chapter you would file along with the fees. We offer free consultations and quote flat fees along with payment plans. Call use to take advantage of this opportunity.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/9/2011
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc.
    Ryan Legal Services, Inc. | Kevin Ryan
    You should first locate an attorney who handles bankruptcy matters full time. Call the attorney or a few attorneys and discuss your case with at least 2-3 of them to get an idea of what they charge. A basic Ch 7 filing should not cost any more than $900-1,200.00 up front assuming the assets are basic household goods, one home, 1-2 vehicles and basic secured and unsecured debt (and maybe a tax claim). Chapter 13 cases are usually more expensive but most attorneys will take a retainer fee up front to cover the initial meeting(s) and drafting of paperwork, together with initial court appearances. The balance of fees can usually be paid inside of the Ch 13 bankruptcy plan ( you make monthly payments to a Trustee on your debts, and the attorney fees are paid over a period of usually 6-12 mos depending on the district, as an administrative/priority expense).
    Answer Applies to: Ohio
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Grasso Law Group
    Grasso Law Group | Charles Grasso, Esq.
    There really is no generic answer for determining what bankruptcy chapter to use. You should file under the proper bankruptcy chapter depending on your specific circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Charles Schneider, P.C.
    Charles Schneider, P.C. | Charles J. Schneider
    You should not be deciding to file any specific chapter of bankruptcy based on price. It should be based on your goals that you want to obtain from bankruptcy and whether you are eligible for the chapter. The price of bankruptcy will differ based on the chapter and also based upon who you are, your income, what you own and want to protect and a lot of other factors that make each case different or harder than others. In other words based on the "situation".
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Law Office of Asaph Abrams
    Law Office of Asaph Abrams | Asaph Abrams
    You need to file under the correct/appropriate Bankruptcy-Code chapter; in choosing between chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, attorney fees are generally not a relevant factor. Determination of the right chapter is integral to a bankruptcy consultation and is very fact-specific. This answer (as well as our Web site) doesn't address all facts & implications of the question; it's general info, not legal advice to be relied upon; it creates no attorney-client relationship; it may be pertinent to CA only; it's independent of other answers. Hire legal counsel before acting or refraining from bankruptcy/legal action

    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger
    Law Offices of Michael J. Berger | Michael J. Berger
    You need to go with the Chapter of bankruptcy that is best for you, not the one that is least expensive. Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 can each help the debtor to accomplish different objectives. Chapter 7 is usually the least expensive form of bankruptcy, with my median fee for a Chapter 7 being $2,000.00 + $299.00 court filing fee. "
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Apple Law Firm PLLC
    Apple Law Firm PLLC | David Goldman
    Generally the legal fees on a Chapter 7 are less expensive than a chapter 13
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Center
    Bankruptcy Law Center | Bill Zurinskas
    Applies to Colorado Bankruptcy only: Most debtors file chapter 7 bankruptcy. The attorney fees for chapter 7 bankruptcy vary greatly. My office charges $799 plus a filing fee of $299 for a simple chapter 7 bankruptcy, but I have charged in excess of $20,000 for complex business cases. The average attorneys fees (plus filing fee) for an Colorado chapter 7 bankruptcy is $1500. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is more expensive with most bankruptcy attorney fees starting at $3300 plus the $276 filing fee. Many attorneys in the Denver area advertise on Google ad words, and advertise fees starting at $499 or $475 or $385, but almost never charge that fee and usually charge around $1200 for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. These Denver bankruptcy mills have paralegals do the majority of the work, so you spend very little time with an attorney. There exist bankruptcy typing services called Bankruptcy Petition Preparers that charge up to $200 to type your bankruptcy papers (if they charge more file complaint with the U.S. Trustee's office). They can only type your bankruptcy documents, so you are acting as your own attorney. They also routinely engage in the unauthorized practice of law (once again contact the U.S. Trustee if there are problems with your case). I have sued several of these Bankruptcy Petition Preparers for multiple violations of Bankruptcy law and helped put two of them out of business. If you want quality legal representation in your bankruptcy case. you should ask the following questions; 1) How much time will you actually spend with the bankruptcy attorney? Answer: Should be at least 3 hours 2) How long have you been a bankruptcy attorney in Colorado? Answer: The longer the better, but at least 10 years 3) How many bankruptcy cases have you filed for clients? Answer: The more the better, but at lease 2000.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/3/2011
    Property and Estate Law, PLC
    Property and Estate Law, PLC | Alisa Lachow-Thurston
    Chapter 7 is usually the least expensive for legal fees since is the shortest simplest chapter. However, always consult an attorney to review the advantages and disadvantages of each chapter for your particular situation and long term financial goals.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Law Office of Dennis Jay Sargent Jr, PLLC
    Law Office of Dennis Jay Sargent Jr, PLLC | Dennis J Sargent Jr.
    The type of Chapter that you file is not based upon how much you want to spend, but rather what Chapter you qualify for. Generally, the two chapters that an average consumer would qualify for are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is for consumers with little income and assets. Chapter 13 is generally for consumers with income and/or assets. In many cases, the fees are similar for each chapter, it is the attorney fees that vary between chapters. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually resolved within about 3-6 months, where Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a consumer may be in bankruptcy for as long as 5 years. You and your attorney will do an analysis of your situation to determine which chapter is right for you.
    Answer Applies to: North Carolina
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Theodore N. Stapleton, PC
    Theodore N. Stapleton, PC | Theodore N. Stapleton
    Yes your circumstances will determine the chapter that you file under. Generally a chapter 13 is more expensive than a chapter 7. I am happy to discuss your options with you.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
    Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
    Unfortunately the fee is based on what type of bankruptcy you file and that is totally dependent on your specific situation. The fee is different for each type of bankruptcy. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Colorado Legal Solutions
    Colorado Legal Solutions | Stephen Harkess
    Different types of bankruptcy have different cost. The type of bankruptcy that will address your issues will depend on your specific situation. You need to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to determine what your options are.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    You have to file under the Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code that your situation requires and will benefit you the most. Bankruptcy is not like deciding whether to buy the deluxe toaster model with lots of buttons or the standard model with just an on and off switch.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Ray Fisher Law Offices
    Ray Fisher Law Offices | Ray Fisher
    Generally chapter 7 is less expensive than chapter 13 and is the best kind of bankruptcy to file if it works for you.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
    Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
    Most individuals file either chapter 7 liquidation or chapter 13 payment plan. A chapter 13 lasts between 36 and 60 months and is therefore more expensive for legal fees.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis
    Indianapolis Bankruptcy Law Office of Eric C. Lewis | Eric Lewis
    Nobody should ever choose what chapter of bankruptcy to do based on what is the cheapest overall cost because it could be, which is many times the case, that the most expensive option is the one that saves you the most money or gets you the best fresh start. That said, Chapter 7 liquidation tends to be cheaper than Chapter 13 reorganization.
    Answer Applies to: Indiana
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    You determine which Chapter to file based on your circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    There are different chapters of the bankruptcy code with different effects, costs and procedures, and the facts that allow you to do one often disqualify you from another. You need a good lawyer to weigh the pros and cons and determine what you can file, what you should file, and what best benefits you. Chapter 7, which eliminates debts, often has more upfront cost than a 13, but is usually the cheapest overall, and it is used mostly to eliminate debts. 13 is usually a way to repay debts, but also can get rid of debts, and may get rid of some debts that a 7 cannot. 11 usually is expensive and is mostly used by business. Cost is not the reason you should be deciding what helps you. A good attorney is invaluable.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Ursula G. Barrios Law
    Ursula G. Barrios Law | Guillermo Machado
    Typically chapter 7 is the least costly.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/2/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    You can shop around for price. Chapter 7 is the cheapest. I charge $900.00 plus the filing fee, no extra fee for vehicle reaffirmation agreements.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/2/2011
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