What are our limits?

3,373 families filed bankruptcy using Upsolve.

Written by Rohan Pavuluri.  
Updated September 5, 2019

A nonprofit web app that helps you file bankruptcy for free.
  • We've helped over 2,000 families each clear on average $52,509 of debt.
  • Our users often file within 10 days of starting.
  • Our award winning nonprofit's help is 100% free.

Dear Community,

During our first three years at Upsolve, we had to answer a hard question: Who is Upsolve for?

To answer this question, we received feedback from bankruptcy attorneys, judges, academics, and trustees across the United States. As the largest legal services nonprofit for bankruptcy in the U.S., we also learned a great deal first hand about how the bankruptcy system in America works. Here are some important things for us to make clear.

1. Upsolve isn’t for everyone. Upsolve is only for the simplest Chapter 7 cases. Local lawyers are best for people who don’t have simple Chapter 7 cases.

2. We need to ask hundreds of questions and collect several documents to figure out who may have a simple Chapter 7 case and who does not. This can be frustrating to people who are screened out after answering lots of questions, but it’s the only way to ensure the right people use Upsolve.

3. We screen out complicated cases in the best interests of our users. We want everyone who should get a discharge to get a discharge, and we don’t want people to use Upsolve if we think it’ll hurt their chances of getting a discharge.

What does it mean to have a simple Chapter 7 case?

We only let people use our software if we believe that the outcome they receive with our service is the same outcome they’d receive through a traditional attorney. There’s no way to ever know this for sure, so we veer towards being over cautious in screening people out. Our guiding philosophy is to do no harm.

To figure out whether someone would be likely to get the same outcome with Upsolve as with an attorney, we ask hundreds of questions. If at any point a user answers one of these questions in such a way that we don’t think they’re going to be well-served by our software, we tell them they should go speak to a local attorney.

Here are three examples of reasons why we tell people they should go talk to a lawyer and what went through our mind when making the decisions.

1. User owns a home. Upsolve doesn't help homeowners because of the variety of issues that can arise for homeowners. Whether that is catching up or modifying a mortgage, or making sure that the filer's home is not at risk for being sold by the Trustee, we don't want to take any chances with people's homes.

2. User earns above the median income for their state. If you earn above the median income for your state, a sophisticated and in-depth means test analysis is necessary to determine whether you qualify for Chapter 7 relief. This requires a legal analysis and knowledge of highly localized norms and procedures that we believe a local lawyer is more equipped to handle.

3. User has a pending personal injury lawsuit. If you're entitled to a possible recovery in a personal injury lawsuit when you file bankruptcy, the Trustee may step in your shoes and conclude or settle the lawsuit, then distribute some or all of the proceeds to your creditors. A local bankruptcy attorney can help you navigate this challenge.


Rohan, CEO and Co-Founder

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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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