Thursday, July 25, 2013

How much does a Bankruptcy Cost?

      This is a frequently asked question in the bankruptcy world.  How much does a bankruptcy cost, and how am I supposed to pay for it?
      Well first it depends on under which chapter you are filing bankruptcy.  Chapter 7 is the least expensive, but you must first qualify, and there are lots of restrictions.  Chapter 13 is next highest, but with relatively low risk if you have a job and can afford your repayment plan.  As for Chapter 11, if you have to ask, you cannot afford it.
      Currently in the Middle District of Tennessee, which consists of Nashville and surrounding counties, the filing fee for a Chapter 7 is $306, Chapter 13 is $281, and Chapter 11 is $1,213 but also with quarterly fees that depend on how much debt is owed. 
      For Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors, the filing fee does not need to be immediately paid. For Chapter 13 debtors, the trustee will pay the fee for you out of your monthly payments.   For Chapter 7 debtors, they have up to 4 months to pay the filing fee; however, failure to do so will result in closing of the case without a discharge.  Thus we recommend paying the fee up front.
      The attorney fees for bankruptcy are set by the court.  Chapter 7 fees can range from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on how complicated the case is.  Some newer attorneys and high volume law firms will charge less, but like most things in life, you get what you paid for. 
      As for Chapter 13 cases, the fee can range from $2,500 to $4,000, but these fees are paid through the monthly plan payments and are disbursed by the Trustee of the case.  Also, chapter 13 fees are higher because the case lasts from 3 to 5 years. 
      Lastly, are the counseling courses.  The 2005 amendments to the bankruptcy code requires that debtors attend 2 budgeting courses.  The course holder must be a non-profit agency and approved by the Bankruptcy court.  The agencies that we recommend our clients to charge $25 for the first course and $15 for the second course.  In a chapter 13, however, the trustee will teach the second course for free. 
      At our firm, we do take pro-bono cases and will charge less fees for individuals who truly cannot afford the fee.

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