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How can I file bankruptcy if I don't have any money?

Eden Prairie, MN |

I am employed but I have pretty much no money. Is there a way for me to file bankruptcy without having to come up with the $2000 or so the attorneys I've looked into charge? Thanks

Attorney Answers 8


  1. No, not unless you borrow the money or have a third party pay the fees.


  2. People that file bankruptcy aren't usually poor or indigent - they just have overwhelming debt. If they stop paying their old debts, they often can come up with the money to pay for legal services they value pretty quickly, just as they pay for living expenses that they value, such as utilities, cell phones, internet service etc. If you don't value something, you will never find the money to pay for it. Hope this perspective helps!


  3. Quite often people pay their bankruptcy attorney by simply NOT PAYING THEIR CREDITORS. If you truly have no assets, and no wages to garnish, then there is no reason to file bankruptcy at all. But, if you have a job, your creditors are going to garnish your wages sooner or later. Then you REALLY won't be able to hire an attorney to save yourself.

    You can safely assume that bankruptcy attorneys have continued to exist for good reasons. We are worthy of our hire and can save you from the slavery that would result if your wages were garnished for an indefinite time. In short, we deliver value to our clients.

    Consider the alternatives carefully. $2,000.00 paid to a boring, cynical, heartless attorney that doesn't love you... or a garnishment that lasts until your boss gets tired of it and fires you. Sad to say, it's a cold world out there. Good luck.

    Don't forget to click on the "Best Answer" button, if you appreciate this wit and wisdom. This answer is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and may not be relied upon as legal advice. A careful examination of the facts is necessary before a legal answer may be relied on. You should consult your own attorney before taking or refraining from any legal action.


  4. Perhaps if you shop around a bit you can find an attorney who will charge you substantially less than $2,000. Good Luck!


  5. This is a difficult problem. Please check with your local Bankruptcy Bar Association to see if they have a Pro Bono Committee or project wherein a lawyer could be appointed to assist you without charge. Alternatively, you may have a legal aid society in your area that may have a panel of potential bankruptcy attorneys who may be able to assist you free of charge or at a significantly reduced price. We have these services in South Florida and it is likely you have similar type services in your area. Take a little time to seek out that help. Perhaps you will qualify.

    This is a general response to a general inquiry and is not intended to for any type of relationship, including but not limited to an attorney client relationship. You should consult with an attorney in your area regarding this matter and provide such attorney with all relevant facts and circumstances so proper and full advice can be given as to the specific facts of your case


  6. Under the most recent major update to the Bankruptcy Code, people are eligible to have the (now) $306 Chapter 7 filing fee waived if: 1.) The debtor's income is less than 150% of the official federal poverty level for the applicable family size, and 2.) the Court finds the debtor is unable to pay the filing fee in installments. Another hurdle that you will face is that, the Chapter 7 trustee can object to your filing fee being waived. (The Chapter 7 trustee gets paid a portion of each filing fee and will not get paid if you don't pay a filing fee. Because of this, some trustees will object to a fee waiver application.) The $306 Chapter 7 fee can also be paid in installments.
    As for a Chapter 13 (repayment plan of 3-5 years), the filing fee cannot be waived but may be paid in installments upon proper application.
    I agree with one of the other attorneys answering this question that you should contact your city, county, or state bar association and explain your situation and ask if there is pro bono assistance. Also, many if not most, bankruptcy attorneys will offer free consultation. Some will take payment plans as well. Hope this helps and good luck.

    This information does not create an attorney client relationship and you should always consult an attorney in person before taking any action referred to in the above informational posting.


  7. Shop around some more, and you may find some attorneys that offer lower rates, payment plans and fees based upon need. All the other posters has offered great tips as well for strategies to come up with money to pay a bankruptcy attorney. If you're still struggling, look around for a legal aid company or clinic to see if you can qualify for a pro bono attorney. Best of luck!

    Andrew C. Thompson, Attorney at Law, 1539 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105, (651) 698-2181, athompson@tl-attorneys.com I am providing this information solely for informational purposes. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Nothing transmitted in this posting establishes an attorney-client relationship. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. You are welcome to contact me personally in anyway. However, such contact does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to me until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.


  8. Most attorneys will accept payment by installment, myself included. The fees have to be paid in full before filing, but having hired an attorney will give you some protection against your creditors in the interim.

    There are attorneys out there who charge substantially less than $2000, but I would be extremely wary of them. In my opinion they are either inexperienced or cutting corners. If they really are competent and working for half as much as everyone else, God bless them, but I doubt it. I would also watch out for so called "zero down" bankruptcies. They require a friend or family member sign a promissory note for you and if you subsequently can't pay they will sue that person.

    The information provided here is intended to help you be an informed legal consumer and is not a substitute for representation by an attorney.