After you finally decide that none of the alternative options are good for you to get a relief from debts and you need to file for bankruptcy, there are some other things to consider regarding the payments, for example paying the lawyer, document fees, court fees and some additional costs as well. What will happen if your finances are so bad that you feel you can’t afford even to file because the bankruptcy process can be costly. It is not uncommon for people who have been struggling for years to make minimum payments on their debts to suddenly find out they are too broke to pay a lawyer or pay the bankruptcy filing fees.
Many debtors which are unfamiliar with the complexity of the process are trying to deal with the process by themselves on their own “Pro Se”. But in this way they may get a poorly filed bankruptcy that can be dismissed, which means you will not get any relief from creditors. On top of that, filing your bankruptcy incorrectly could leave some of the property and assets unprotected which could lead to losing a lot of things you could have kept after the bankruptcy is finalized.
Even if you think you can’t afford it, you still may have options that will allow you to get help with filing bankruptcy without putting your finances into an even worse situation:
- Save up some funds prior to filing. While the process of interviewing some potential lawyer and getting ready the documentation you can still try to save up some money away.
- Think of ways to collect the money needed. Sell some items that you are likely to lose in a bankruptcy. Stop making payments on debts that you are hoping to erase in the bankruptcy process.
- Look for low cost bankruptcy attorneys. Many bankruptcy attorneys offer discounted initial sessions. Use this session to explore whether or not filing bankruptcy is going to be right for you and what you will need to do to proceed with a bankruptcy filing.
- Negotiate a reduced fee amount. Try to negotiate with your attorney for an amount that you are able to pay. Propose some terms and ask about a payment plan, see how will the attorney reacts.
- Get a loan from a friend or family member. This can help reduce the burden of paying fees by yourself.
- Look for attorneys who provide services free or “Pro Bono”. Research to see if there are legal services in your area that provide services for those with limited income. You can typically find more information on pro Bono attorneys online, through your state bar or by talking to lawyers in your area. Many experienced attorneys set aside a certain amount of time each year to do cases for free.
- Control your spending and budget. Try to get on a tight budget and keep track of your spending so you can put aside some necessary money for the bankruptcy filing.
- Tax Refund. If you receive a tax refund every year you can use that money to pay attorneys’ fees with it.
- Talk to a Bankrupcy Attorney Before Filing Your Case. Most attorneys provide free consultation and give information about the bankruptcy process, the specifics of your case and type of bankruptcy you should use.
- Pay your fees through your Chapter 13 repayment plan. If you can afford to pay your attorney, you can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy for the sole purpose of paying your lawyer’s fees through your repayment plan.
- Instead of paying to the creditor, pay your attorney. The money that would have gone to the creditor, is now being paid to your attorney, and you can afford yo pay those fees.
- Cut out unnecessary monthly expenses. Take a look at your bills and see if some of them can be eliminated. Can you live without cable TV, pest control, alarm system, or your home phone?
- Work more hours. Maybe you can consider picking up a second job or working extra hours on the one that you already have.
- Look for legal clinics. Legal clinics offer advice and representation at low or no cost depending on your income. Some bankruptcy courts have clinics or information centers that are designed to help self-represented debtors with their cases or provide further information about the free legal services in their area.
- Represent yourself. If you decide that you still don’t have enough money and you will represent yourself, you need to do some research and take the time to do a good job. But there are some things to consider before starting representing yourself.
- Time available. You need to have enough time to get into the role of part-time attorney.
- Type of bankruptcy case. On the other side the Chapter 13 bankruptcy can last three to five years. If you have a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to successfully file on your own. But even a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires that you put in a significant amount of effort and research.
- The complexity and nature of your case.
- How comfortable you are with researching the necessary legal information and representing yourself.
Before deciding that you can’t afford bankruptcy, examine your budget and all the alternative options available to you. Your self-represented bankruptcy filing may also be riskier than a lawyer led affair. You’ll need to research the process thoroughly before committing to a course of action. A poorly filed bankruptcy can be dismissed, which means you will not get any relief from your creditors. If you don’t put in the time and effort into researching all necessary laws, rules, and procedures, you risk having your case dismissed without a discharge or losing your property.