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How Much Does it Cost to File for Bankruptcy?

Being in debt is stressful. Finding an experienced bankruptcy lawyer on Long Island should not be. The first question that most people have when considering bankruptcy is “how much does it cost to file for bankruptcy?”

My philosophy in setting a fee for a bankruptcy filing is that bankruptcy is not a “one size fits all” area of practice. By that I mean that I do not charge the same flat fee for every case. However, my fee structure is very straightforward and is based on the estimated complexity of each particular client’s case.

First things first – The fee for a bankruptcy filing will of course depend on whether you file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You can read more about the differences between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy here.

The attorney’s fee is in addition to the filing fee charged by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is $335 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and $310 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

In addition, you are required to take a credit counseling course prior to filing for bankruptcy. The course is taken online.  You can take the course for $15 at the following website:  Credit Counseling Course

Also, after the bankruptcy case is filed, you must take a course in personal financial management, also online. The post filing course costs as little as $15.


A Word About the Means Test

Whether you can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is determined by the Means Test. The means test is comprised of your gross income, including your spouse’s income, as well as any other sources of income, other than Social Security. If your gross income (including your spouse if married), is less than the median income for New York State, you will qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are above the median income for New York State, your eligibility to file for Chapter 7 will be determined by deducting from your income certain standard expenses, as well as other expenses specific to your situation, such as your mortgage payment.

I will perform a means test analysis for you at no charge. This way, you will know if you qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy before any fees are paid.


Attorney’s Fees for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Filing on Long Island

Unlike many attorneys, I will gladly quote you a fee on the telephone, after discussing the particulars of your situation. However, to give you an idea of what it will cost you to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, below are estimates of what the fee would be based on a variety of common scenarios, from lowest to highest fee.

Keep in mind that these are examples only. The fee in your case will depend on the specific facts of your situation. The attorney’s fee is in addition to the court filing fee ($335).

Sample fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing:

Example 1

  • You are retired, and living on a fixed income such as social security or disability.
  • You do not own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $1,100. Fee for a joint filing $1,400.

Example 2

  • You are working and are paid wages.
  • Or, you are married and both you and your spouse are working and being paid wages.
  • Your gross income, or your combined gross income, is below the median income for New York State.
  • You do not own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $1,300. Fee for a joint filing $1,500.

Example 3

  • You are working and are paid wages.
  • Or, you are married and both you and your spouse are working and being paid wages.
  • You gross income, or your combined gross income, is above the median income for New York State.
  • You do not own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $1,400. Fee for a joint filing $1,600.

Example 4

  • Same facts as Example 3, except you own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $1,500. Fee for a joint filing $1,700.

Example 5

  • You are married.
  • You are self-employed, running a small one person business, such as a home improvement contractor.
  • Your spouse is working and being paid wages.
  • Your combined gross income is above the median income for New York State.
  • You own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $1,800. Fee for a joint filing $2,100.

Example 6

  • You are married.
  • You own a small business, such as a deli or retail shop.
  • Your spouse is working and being paid wages.
  • Your combined gross income is above the median income for New York State.
  • You own a home.
  • Fee for a single filing $2,000. Fee for a joint filing $2,300.

All Chapter 7 fees must be paid prior to the filing of the bankruptcy petition. Attorneys that accept payments for attorney’s fees after the filing of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy are violating the automatic stay and discharge injunction provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. This is because attorney’s fees owed in a Chapter 7 case are no different than any other non-dischargeable, pre-petition debt – that is, they are discharged and cannot be collected once the case is filed.


Attorney’s Fees for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Filing on Long Island

My standard fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $4,000. Of this fee, $1,500 is paid prior to the bankruptcy filing. The remainder of the attorney’s fee is paid back as part of your Chapter 13 repayment plan. The fee will be higher if judgment liens are to be voided  (additional $750) or to strip a second mortgage lien (additional $750).

If you live in Nassau County or Suffolk County, NY, and are considering bankruptcy, please feel free to call me at 631-812-7020 to discuss your situation. After speaking with you on the telephone, I will be able to quote you a fee for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

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