Can I File for Bankruptcy if I Have No Money?

When you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you likely are struggling financially and may have little to no money. Although it might seem like a contradiction in terms to file for bankruptcy, you must pay a filing fee, as well as a lawyers’ fee. You may be wondering how you will file for bankruptcy if you don’t have money to pay your bills. Can you file for bankruptcy if you don’t have any money? First and foremost, you should call a lawyer to find out how you can make your bankruptcy affordable and possible. 


You will have to pay approximately $335 to file for Chapter 7 and $310 to file for Chapter 13. Depending on your lawyer you might also have to pay for their legal fees up front. The reason for this is because their fees can become a part of the bankruptcy estate and may be discharged in the process, leaving them little or nothing in the form of a payment. As some lawyers might explain to you, their fees may be spread out over the duration of the bankruptcy process to make their services more accessible. 


You might be thinking that hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is not possible; however, it is actually very common for a person to save money when they retain a legal advocate. A knowledgeable lawyer understands the complex ins and outs of consumer bankruptcy law and will be able to handle all of the intricate administrative elements of your case. Because a lawyer knows what is needed to be done and when, your case can move quickly through the court. You won’t have to wait months or years for the debt to continue to pile up. Many lawyers can have debt discharged in just 4 or 6 months. 


Bankruptcy Fees, Waivers, and Payment Plans

If you cannot afford to pay your filing fees, the court may arrange something to help you. Sometimes court fees can be rolled into a Chapter 13 repayment plan. For Chapter 7, you may be able to pay the fee off in installments over the course of 120 days. If you still cannot pay the fee off, you might be able to file a waiver of the fee. These waivers are based on income limits. You will only be eligible if you are at 150 percent of the poverty level or less. 


Filing for Bankruptcy without a Lawyer

If you need to save money, you can file for bankruptcy on your own. There is no law mandating that you hire a lawyer. If you are in this situation, please know that there are very few bankruptcies that are successful with pro se litigants (a person who represents themself). The process is complicated and involves:


  • Determining which chapter to file. 
  • Making sure you qualify for the chosen chapter. 
  • Learning your state’s property exemptions.
  • Gathering all the necessary paperwork, court documents, personal information, etc.
  • Attending the Meeting of the Creditors in which you will be asked questions by creditors. 
  • Creating a practical plan of repayment for Chapter 13. 
  • Liquidating your assets for Chapter 7. 
  • Making any court appearances, and representing yourself in front of a judge. 


This will take a lot of time and resources. If you cannot devote yourself to the process, you should consider hiring a lawyer, like a bankruptcy lawyer from The Law Offices of Ronald I. Chorches, who can help you to work with your financial situation — even if you are limited with money.