Declaring bankruptcy is a major choice that can have far-reaching consequences for one’s financial stability. While it does offer a way to reduce debt and start over, it is important to be aware of the fees associated. In this post, we’ll take a close look at the costs of bankruptcy in the United States, including legal representation, filing fees, and more.
Individuals and corporations can seek the protection of the federal bankruptcy court in order to discharge or repay their debts through the bankruptcy process. In theory, it should help people and businesses who have accrued so much debt that they can’t possibly hope to ever pay it off.
Numerous “chapters” of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code define the many bankruptcy options available to consumers and businesses in financial distress. Individuals typically file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Costs
Bankruptcy under Chapter 7 is commonly known as “liquidation bankruptcy.” To discharge any remaining unsecured obligations, the process involves selling off non-exempt assets to pay off creditors. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy includes the following expenses:
Attorney Fees: If you are considering bankruptcy, it is highly advised that you retain legal representation. Legal representation costs can be very different from one place to another and from one case to another. An attorney’s fees in a Chapter 7 case typically range from $2,000 to $3,500. This cost may include hiring an attorney, preparing legal documents, and appearing in court.
Filing Fee: My most recent information indicates that the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee is $300-350 as of 2023. It is recommended that you check the most up-to-date fee schedule on the official website of the U.S. Courts or speak with an attorney for the most accurate information as these fees are subject to change.
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses: You must take part in credit counseling and debtor education both before and after filing for bankruptcy. Depending on the school you go with, each of these lessons could cost you anywhere from $50 to $100.
Other Miscellaneous Costs: Fees for credit reports, mailing, notary services, and appraisals or values of assets may also need to be paid for when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Exemption Costs: In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be required to pay for an appraisal or valuation of your assets if they are not exempt from liquidation.
Reaffirmation Agreement Costs: There may be legal fees associated with the design and filing of reaffirmation agreements if you decide to reaffirm certain secured debts (such as a car loan or mortgage).
Trustee Fees: The bankruptcy trustee may request payment to cover their costs in handling your case. They will often charge a fee that is a percentage of anything you have them sell.
Keep in mind that while Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be completed more quickly than Chapter 13, non-exempt assets may be lost in the process. Your lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and advise you on how to legally safeguard the most amount of your possessions.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Costs
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, sometimes known as “reorganization bankruptcy,” gives debtors three to five years to come up with a plan to pay off their debts. Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy has some related fees, such as:
Attorney Fees: A lawyer should be sought out in Chapter 13 matters much as in Chapter 7. The cost of hiring an attorney for Chapter 13 bankruptcy might vary from $3,000 to $6,000 or more.
Filing Fee: The current Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee, as of my most recent research, is $300+. Please refer to the most up-to-date fee schedule posted on the official website of the U.S. Courts to confirm the current charge.
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses: These programs range in price from $50 to $100, but you must finish them.
Chapter 13 Plan Payments: Chapter 13 bankruptcy’s monthly plan payments are a major expense. Your income, expenses, and total debt will all play a role in determining the amount of these payments. Your lawyer will assist you in developing a workable repayment strategy.
Trustee Fees: A trustee is assigned to manage your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case and disburse payments to your creditors. Your regular plan payments already include the trustee’s fee, which is often a percentage of the total.
Amendment or Modification Fees: Filing fees for revisions to your Chapter 13 plan may increase if your financial circumstances need a change.
Conversion Fees: It is possible to incur additional costs when transitioning from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Post-Confirmation Attorney Fees: After the court approves your Chapter 13 repayment plan, your attorney may request payment for any further work done on your case.
When contemplating bankruptcy, it’s important to think about more than just the upfront expenditures of paperwork and legal representation. Some of these things to think about are:
- Credit Impact: Having a bankruptcy on your credit report will have a devastating effect on your score and may stay there for up to ten years. Your future access to credit, such as loans and credit cards, may be impacted.
- Asset Protection: You may be able to keep some of your property by using bankruptcy exemptions, but this will depend on the type of bankruptcy you file and your individual situation. Your lawyer can tell you what kinds of property are safe and what kinds are not.
- Financial Counseling: It is important to consider the costs of bankruptcy counseling sessions, as they are generally required as part of the bankruptcy process.
- Tax Implications: There may be tax repercussions if you file for bankruptcy and have debts discharged. To learn about the possible tax implications, you should talk to a tax expert.
- Legal Costs: If your creditors or others file a challenge to your bankruptcy, you may incur unanticipated legal fees.
Filing Bankruptcy is an expensive and time-consuming legal process. Whether or not you engage an attorney, the complexity of your case, the type of bankruptcy you declare, and your geographic location can all have a significant impact on the final price tag.
Debt relief through bankruptcy is possible, but filing should not be done without careful consideration of the short- and long-term repercussions.
You should talk to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can give you advice tailored to your unique circumstances before filing for bankruptcy. They can advise you on the best chapter to file under and the associated fees, and guide you through the entire procedure.