Low Cost Bankruptcy: Do Good Options Exist?

3,728 families have filed bankruptcy using Upsolve

In a Nutshell

Filing for bankruptcy can get expensive. Apart from finding an affordable bankruptcy attorney, there are ways to file at low cost.

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts.  
Updated July 29, 2020


If you have been searching for an affordable Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney, you may not believe that there are any good options for a low cost bankruptcy. We want to share some news with you that may change your mind about filing a low cost bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 is the best option for a low cost bankruptcy for many people. Most Chapter 7 cases filed are considered no-asset Chapter 7 cases. A no-asset Chapter 7 case allows someone to file a low cost bankruptcy to get out of debt while keeping their property.

The process of filing a Chapter 7 low cost bankruptcy is not as difficult or complex as you might believe. You can obtain the Official Bankruptcy Forms to file a low cost bankruptcy from the court. The Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are available on the website for the United States Courts.

Can I File a Chapter 7 Low Cost Bankruptcy Case Without an Attorney?

Yes, you can file a low cost bankruptcy Chapter 7 case without an attorneyBankruptcy laws do not require debtors to hire a bankruptcy lawyer. However, many people do hire an attorney because bankruptcy law can be complex and they are nervous about facing a Chapter 7 trustee alone.

However, as we mentioned above, most Chapter 7 low cost bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases. No-asset cases are typically simple cases that are completed within four to six months from the date the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed.

Therefore, many debtors who cannot afford to hire an attorney can file a low cost bankruptcy case to get out of debt on their own. If you can afford to hire an attorney to file bankruptcy, that is usually an incredibly wise decision. However, for individuals who do not have the funds to pay an attorney, there are still options for filing a Chapter 7 low cost bankruptcy case.

Upsolve Is an Option You Might Want to Consider

Upsolve is a non-profit company dedicated to helping low-income individuals who cannot afford to hire an attorney but need to file a low cost bankruptcy Chapter 7 case. If you are eligible, there is no fee for our services.

You do not have to believe us. You can watch videos of our past users explain how they were able to file a low cost bankruptcy Chapter 7 case without an attorney with our assistance. Listen to them tell you how the process works and what a difference it has made in their lives to be debt-free.

If this sounds like something you might want to consider, take our screener to start Upsolve’s free bankruptcy process. You can get a fresh start by getting rid of debt. You do not need to suffer any longer from threats by creditors to take your property or garnish your wages.

Why Is Chapter 7 a Good Option for a Low Cost Bankruptcy?

There are several reasons why a Chapter 7 case is a good option for seeking a low cost bankruptcy discharge. You may qualify for reduced or waived fees for the three main costs of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

One: You May Qualify to Waive the Filing Fee or Pay the Fee in Installments

Certain low-income individuals may qualify to pay the bankruptcy court filing fee in installments. The filing fee you must pay to the bankruptcy court when you file your Chapter 7 low cost bankruptcy case is $335.

However, if you meet certain income requirements, you may qualify to pay that fee over several installments. You must complete and file an Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.

If your application is approved, you can pay the filing fee in four installments. However, make sure that you pay the installments by the deadline set by the court and written in the order approving your application.

Some individuals may qualify to have the Chapter 7 filing fee waived. This low cost bankruptcy option is only available to individuals who meet the strict income guidelines. You must file an Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived with your Chapter 7 petition.

Two: You May Qualify to Have the Fee for Your Bankruptcy Courses Waived

You are required to complete two bankruptcy courses before you can receive a bankruptcy discharge. The first course, a Credit Counseling Course, must be completed before you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. The second course, a Debtor Education Course, cannot be taken until after you receive your case number from the court.

Failing to complete the creditor counseling course results in a dismissal of your case. If you do not complete the debtor education course before the deadline set by the court, you will not receive a bankruptcy discharge.

If you do not receive a bankruptcy discharge, you continue to owe all the debts listed on your bankruptcy schedules as if you have never filed a bankruptcy case. Therefore, it is usually a wise idea to complete your debtor education course and file the certificate of completion with the court before the date of your First Meeting of Creditors.

Both courses can be completed online in less than two hours each for a nominal fee (approximately $10 to $15 each). However, some low-income debtors may qualify to waive the fee for their bankruptcy courses if they are filing a low cost bankruptcy Chapter 7. You can request a form from the company offering the courses to determine if you are eligible to waive the fee.

Three: You Can File a Chapter 7 Case Without an Attorney

The biggest expense of filing for bankruptcy relief is paying the attorney fee. The typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fee averages $1,450. Even on the low end of the scale, the bankruptcy attorney fees average approximately $1,000 for a simply no-asset Chapter 7 case.

For a truly low cost bankruptcy case under Chapter 7, you can file your bankruptcy case without an attorney. If you file your case on your own, you can save over a thousand dollars. The bankruptcy laws do not require you to hire an attorney to file a Chapter 7 case. Therefore, you can have a low cost bankruptcy under Chapter 7 if you are willing to represent yourself in court.

However, bankruptcy attorneys are highly experienced and skilled lawyers with special knowledge in the area of bankruptcy law. If you can afford to hire a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney to file your case, it is usually best to do so.

What If I Cannot Afford to Hire a Bankruptcy Attorney?

We understand that the reason you are researching low cost bankruptcy cases is that you probably do not have the funds to pay an attorney. When you are struggling to make ends meet, finding enough money to hire an attorney is difficult, if not impossible. Your only chance to obtain bankruptcy relief is to file a Chapter 7 low cost bankruptcy case.

Upsolve can help. Our non-profit service is offered to low-income individuals free of charge so that they can get out of debt by filing a low cost bankruptcy under Chapter 7.

We can help you determine if you qualify for a low cost bankruptcy Chapter 7 case and then guide you through each step of the Chapter 7 process. You can get rid of your debts in a low cost bankruptcy even if you cannot afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney. We can help!



About the author
Attorney Jonathan Petts

Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in... read more

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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