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How to File for Chapter 7 with No Money

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which allows you to liquidate and discharge most unsecured debts when you can’t afford to pay them, can be the opportunity you need for a fresh start. If you’re worried about the costs and whether you can even afford to take bankruptcy, we understand that this can be a difficult decision. To help you better understand your options and make the best choice for your family and your future, our bankruptcy attorney in Florida is sharing how you can file for Chapter 7 with no money.

Chapter 7 Filing Fees and Costs

The minimum cost of filing for bankruptcy is the $338 filing fee in court. On top of this, you must also take an approved credit counseling program and debt education class within 180 days prior to filing in order to submit the Certificate of Credit Counseling with your petition. These programs vary in price, but on average, they are between $50 and $100 to take both classes.

The good news is that you can make payments on your filing fee, and if you can’t make the payments, waivers are available. Your combined family income must be below 150 percent of the federal poverty level for your family size in order to be approved for the waiver.

Bankruptcy Attorney Fees

In addition to the necessary costs, many people choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help them navigate the process and achieve a more favorable outcome. Also, many bankruptcy attorneys are recognized to provide debt counseling, allowing you to save money on the required programs. While lawyer fees vary depending on the complexity of the case, average rates in South Florida are between $1,000 and $3,500.

Should You File Your Own Bankruptcy?

When an individual needs to file for Chapter 7 with no money, they may choose to forgo legal representation. It’s important to understand that while you may save money upfront, you may lose money in the long run on your bankruptcy. Let’s consider the factors that many people aren’t aware of:

  • Knowing your state exemptions so you don’t inadvertently discharge debt for something you may legally be able to keep. For example, if you maintain good standing in your mortgage prior to filing you will most likely be able to keep your home.
  • Understanding and obtaining the necessary documentation. Filing for bankruptcy requires a lot of paperwork, including pay stubs, bills, forms, and asset information, and if you don’t have the necessary information, the court could dismiss your case.
  • Attending the Meeting of the Creditors and making all court appearances. During a Meeting of the Creditors, your creditors can reject payment plans, dispute discharges, or ask the judge to dismiss the bankruptcy. If your Meeting of Creditors is continued or contested for any reason, it can affect your Chapter 7 bankruptcy results. There may still be additional court sessions to attend before you can successfully complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you don’t have legal counsel, you may find yourself dealing with complex legal issues that may adversely impact your case that can cause time off from your job and family.

As we said above, legally, you have the right to file for bankruptcy without legal representation, but you are more likely to lose property, have your case dismissed, or the process can take significantly longer and cause more stress than necessary. Having an attorney on your side to ensure you keep your property when possible, have your paperwork in order, and push back against creditors can help you achieve a more favorable outcome.

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Florida Bankruptcy Attorney Today

At Stiberman Law, we are dedicated to helping people navigate the complexities of bankruptcy to help them get the fresh start they need. We understand that filing for Chapter 7 with no money is scary and overwhelming, but our payment plans and affordable costs can ensure you get the representation, advocacy, and guidance you need for a better future, and we are able to complete your debt counseling. Call us today for a free consultation at (954) 922-2283 or fill out the form below to get started.

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