If you are struggling with overwhelming debt, you may be wondering how much it can cost to file for bankruptcy. It is often far less than the debt you will be eliminating.
Paying for an attorney may be concerning when your debt already feels unmanageable; however, in virtually all cases, the cost of declaring bankruptcy is far less than the total expense of bills, late fees, and interest that you would pay without bankruptcy.
The cost of filing for bankruptcy will depend on the details of your situation. There are three main categories of expenses to consider when evaluating bankruptcy:
- Bankruptcy Court Filing Fees
- Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
- Required Credit Counseling Courses
In this article, Wynn at Law, LLC will explain the costs of filing for bankruptcy in Wisconsin.
Breakdown of Wisconsin Bankruptcy Costs
There are two common types (also known as chapters) of bankruptcy for individuals in Wisconsin: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. The type of bankruptcy significantly impacts bankruptcy fees and costs.
Note: the cost of declaring bankruptcy is the same for married couples as it is for single individuals when you file with Wynn at Law, LLC.
Bankruptcy Attorney’s Fees
Attorney’s fees are the largest variable cost for declaring bankruptcy. While it is possible to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, it is typically an expensive mistake. Individuals representing themselves (called pro se) have a significantly lower bankruptcy success rate than individuals represented by an attorney.
To protect consumers from excessive fees, bankruptcy judges can review the attorney’s fees and approve or deny the fees as appropriate for a particular case. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy attorney’s fees tend to be more expensive than attorney’s fees for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case.
Cost of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is the most popular type of bankruptcy for Wisconsin residents. This type of bankruptcy provides the opportunity to eliminate credit card debt, personal loans, medical bills, and other unsecured debts.
Factors that can impact attorney’s fees include:
- Business Ownership
- Number of Creditors
- Asset Ownership and the Need for Asset Protection Planning
- Foreclosure, Repossession, Eviction, and Other Legal Actions
- Non-Dischargeable Debts (Student Loans, Child Support, Alimony, or Past-Due Taxes)
Cost of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy consolidates, reorganizes, and restructures unsecured debt using a repayment plan. Typically, Chapter 13 repayment plans require the restructured debt to be repaid over 3-5 years. This type of bankruptcy is available to individuals and couples that intend to use future disposable income to pay some or all debt.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy attorney’s fees can often be included in the bankruptcy repayment plan or be scheduled on a payment plan with the attorney.
Schedule a No-Cost Bankruptcy Consultation
Don’t let the cost of an attorney keep you from pursuing bankruptcy. Wynn at Law, LLC understands that bankruptcy clients are in financial distress. Schedule a FREE consultation with Wynn at Law, LLC to discuss your financial situation. Our attorneys will help you determine if bankruptcy is the right option for you and Wynn at Law, LLC offers flexible payment plans. The sooner that you contact a bankruptcy attorney, the more money you can save.
Bankruptcy Filing Fee
Filing a petition for bankruptcy typically requires a court filing fee. The bankruptcy filing fee is standardized across the United States.
The Chapter 7 Bankruptcy filing fee is $335.
The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy filing fee is $310.
If an individual’s income is below 150% of the Wisconsin poverty line, it is possible to get a waiver that eliminates the filing fee for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Fee waivers are rare for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy cases. The bankruptcy court may allow you to pay the filing fee using installment payments over a series of weeks or months depending on your income as well.
To successfully file for bankruptcy, individuals must complete two educational courses. The first required course is a credit counseling session, which must be completed before filing. The second mandatory course is a debtor education course, which must be completed before the debts are discharged. Both of these courses can be completed online and are not excessively time-consuming.
Generally, these courses cost less than $50 each. These courses must be taken through an approved provider, and the course provider determines the price.
Other Bankruptcy Fees
There are a few additional costs and fees that may arise when filing for bankruptcy. Additional costs are typically minimal and can occur due to document printing and commuting/travel. Miscellaneous fees can occur if additional motions need to be submitted or files need to be retrieved from the courts.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney can minimize the risk of additional fees by carefully reviewing the bankruptcy case before filing.
How to Reduce Bankruptcy Costs
There are a few options to reduce out-of-pocket expenses for individuals concerned about the fees associated with filing for bankruptcy.
Some individuals may also qualify for free legal advice through Legal Action of Wisconsin (Racine). This legal aid office helps qualifying Walworth County and Kenosha County residents to reduce the overall cost of bankruptcy, and their lawyers can represent cases pro-bono (for free).
Unemployed, low-wage earners, disabled, and elderly individuals may be eligible for fee reductions or waivers.
It is possible to file for bankruptcy without an attorney. However, it is essential to remember bankruptcy attorneys have a significantly higher success rate for discharging debts.
Is Bankruptcy Worth It?
Bankruptcy is an option to consider for excessive debt from medical bills, utility bills, payday loans, vehicle repossession debt, personal loans and credit cards. Depending on the type of bankruptcy, individuals can eliminate all or most debt.
If you are facing financial difficulty, meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer can help you evaluate all of your debt relief options. Wynn at Law, LLC offers a FREE bankruptcy consultation. During this consultation, our attorneys will be able to estimate the debt that can be eliminated and will provide a personalized quote for the cost to file for bankruptcy. Contact Wynn at Law, LLC at 262-725-0175 to schedule your consultation at one of our three Southeastern Wisconsin locations.