It probably seems counter-intuitive that it costs money to file for bankruptcy. After all, don’t you file for bankruptcy when you have serious financial problems? While the answer to that questions is yes, there are still costs associated with filing for bankruptcy, a fact that surprises many Georgians when they try to complete this process on their own. Read on to learn more about the costs and fees for filing bankruptcy and how working with an experience attorney can help save you money during this process.
Cost Consideration #1: The Bankruptcy Filing Fee
As of November 1, 2015, it costs $335 to file a Chapter 7 case and $310 to file a Chapter 13 case. However, since the U.S. bankruptcy court could decide to increase or decrease these fees at any time, it is helpful to work with an attorney who can advise you on the current fee and make sure your case isn’t rejected because you provided the wrong fee.
How Can My Attorney Help Me With This Bankruptcy Fee?
Your attorney can help you determine if you qualify for either a fee waiver or an installment plan. If you qualify for a fee waiver, then you don’t need to pay the fee at all. Conversely, if you qualify for the installment plan, then the court will allow you to pay the fee in no more than four installments over a four-month period.
To qualify for the fee waiver, you must be able to prove that your income is 150% below the current federal poverty guideline and that you cannot afford to pay the fee in installments. To apply for the fee waiver, you must file a separate form with the court. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you prepare and file this form in order to maximize your chances of the bankruptcy judge approving your application.
Cost Consideration #2: Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses
When you file for bankruptcy, you must complete a court-approved credit counseling course within six months. The purpose of this course is to educate you on how to make a better budget, pay off your bills, etc. so that you don’t have to file for bankruptcy in the future. These courses also cost money, usually between $20 and $50 depending on the provider.
How Can My Attorney Help With This Cost?
If you are working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, he/she has most likely worked with several different counseling providers and can advise you on which one is the least expensive. Additionally, since the bankruptcy law requires these providers to give you the course regardless of your ability to pay, your attorney can advocate on your behalf in order to make sure the provider follows the law.
Cost Consideration #3: Attorney Fees
No one is required to hire an attorney to assist with the bankruptcy process. However, it is often in your best interest to do so because the bankruptcy law is very complicated
Bankruptcy attorneys charge fees in one of two ways: a one-time flat fee or an hourly fee. During your consultation, you can discuss the required fees and options for payments with the attorney. Just make sure that you are avoiding bankruptcy mills, which are companies that will take your money and process your case, but not very well or successfully.
As you can see, the bankruptcy process can be more complicated than an inexperienced person may think. To make sure bankruptcy is the right choice for you and your family, contact our office today to speak to an experienced attorney about your case. We look forward to speaking with you!