If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy in Florida, you have fallen into financial hardship. However, filing for bankruptcy is not a free process, so you should be aware of the costs involved. Not only is there a filing fee, but you will also have to pay credit counseling fees, court fees, and probably attorneys’ fees. So, if you are filing for bankruptcy, how much will it cost you?
The answer is that it will depend on the type of bankruptcy for which you are filing, as well as the Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyer you choose. Even though no one can tell you exactly how much it will cost you to file bankruptcy, below are some guidelines you can follow.
What Is Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Again, the type of bankruptcy you are filing will largely determine how much it will cost you, so it is important to know about the two main types of bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will discharge most of your debt, your assets will be seized and sold off to help pay off your creditors, and all debt collection efforts must stop.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not completely discharge your debt; instead, a repayment plan is created. The repayment plan will likely extend between three and five years and your assets are not seized. This distinction makes Chapter 13 bankruptcy a good choice for those that have assets they want to protect, such as a home. You are still protected from legal action if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Cost of Filing Bankruptcy
Both a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy have filing costs. As of 2021, it costs $245 to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $235 to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You will also have to pay an administrative fee of $78 and, if you are filing Chapter 7, you will also have to pay a $15 trustee fee. The trustee will meet with your creditors and liquidate your assets.
While the above filing fees are fairly standard and apply to most cases, you may incur additional fees as well. For example, if you have to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after starting the process for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, that comes with an additional cost. Or, if you have to reopen a bankruptcy case, that will also have a price. If you make a payment that is returned due to insufficient funds, you will also have to pay a fee.
Waivers and Installments
Generally speaking, you must pay the filing fee for bankruptcy at the time you file your petition with the court. However, you can ask for the fees to be waived. To do this successfully, you must be unable to pay the fees, even if they are divided in a repayment plan. You must also earn an income that places you less than 150 percent of the poverty line. If you can afford to pay the fees in a payment plan, you can also arrange that at the time you file your petition.
The Cost of Credit Counseling
Anyone who files for bankruptcy is required to take a credit counseling course that has been approved by the court. This is to ensure that you learn better money management skills so you do not end up filing for bankruptcy again. While these courses are very helpful, they also have a small fee attached to them. The cost of these courses is generally not more than $50 and again, you may be eligible for these costs to be waived or you may be able to pay a reduced rate.
Attorney Fees in Fort Lauderdale
Attorney fees can vary drastically, but it is always advised that you work with a Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyer. A lawyer that has the necessary experience with bankruptcy cases will know the laws and federal procedure you can expect in your case. They will explain these laws and rules and how they apply to your case, and will give you the best chance of success.
If you file on your own, one little mistake could result in your case being dismissed, so you are still liable for your debts and debt collectors can still call you. It is just as important to know that when you file bankruptcy on your own, the judges and other court employees cannot provide you with legal advice. You should also always work with a bankruptcy lawyer who offers free consultations so you do not have to pay for a service you may not use if you choose a different lawyer.
While the above are costs that most people have to pay when they file for bankruptcy, there are others that may come up in your case, too. The trustee or creditors in your case may challenge certain aspects of it, which can add to the overall cost.
Common challenges are as follows:
- Means test challenges
- Objections over exemptions
- Objections over discharge or whether a certain debt is eligible for a discharge
- Objections to Confirmation, and
- Motions to Dismiss.
If these challenges are raised during your case, you will have to prepare a solid defense against them, which will add to the cost. This is also another reason to make sure you are working with a Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyer.
Do Not Let the Cost Scare You Off
While there is a cost to filing for bankruptcy, the cost alone should not deter you from doing something that is necessary for your financial future. Bankruptcy should only be used as a last resort, but it is one that can provide immense relief. When working with an attorney, your attorney can advise on the best ways to minimize the cost of bankruptcy and give you the best chance of success so you only have to go through the process once.
Let Our Bankruptcy Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale Help with Your Case
If you are considering bankruptcy, do not file your petition alone. At Loan Lawyers, our experienced Fort Lauderdale bankruptcy lawyers can guide you through the process, making it as quick and easy for you as possible. Call us today at 954-807-1361 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation.