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How to File Bankruptcy With No Money

How to File Bankruptcy With No Money

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UpdatedMay 16, 2024
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    2 min read

How Can I File Bankruptcy at Low or No Cost?

Bankruptcy on a Tight Budget

There are two out-of-pocket costs to bankruptcy:

  • Lawyer’s fee
  • Court filing fees

You can avoid lawyer’s fees two ways: File your own bankruptcy or find a lawyer whose time will not cost you anything.

You can avoid filing fees by asking the court for a fee waiver.

Avoiding Lawyer’s Fees

You can file your bankruptcy petition on your own, which will avoid any lawyer's fees. However, filing on your own a risky strategy.

Most self-created and filed bankruptcy petitions are not successful. Virtually all lawyer-produced bankruptcy petitions succeed. Why? Bankruptcy law is among the most technical specialty areas of law. It's easy to make a mistake with bankruptcy paperwork, which will cause the court to dismiss the case.

Bankruptcy lawyers are specialists. They learn bankruptcy law inside out. recommends readers filing bankruptcy to do so with a lawyer's assistance to have the best chance of success.

If you can't afford a lawyer, then consult with a local organization that helps low- and no-income consumers find low- and no-cost legal services. See the article Where to Find No-Cost Legal Aid if You Have Low or No Income. Help may be available, but you need to ask for it.

Struggling With Debts?

Unsure how to handle your debt? Use the Debt Coach tool to receive a free analysis of all your debt resolution options. It’s free!

Avoiding Bankruptcy Court Fees

Bankruptcy courts provide options to people who cannot afford filing fees.

For example, if your income is below a certain amount, the court may waive your filing fee altogether.

Even if your income does not qualify you for a fee waiver, the court may allow you to pay your fee in installments rather than a lump sum. Discuss filing fee options with your lawyer.

Bills Action Plan

You may be able to file for bankruptcy at little or no cost. Take the following steps:

  1. Make sure you understand the difference between a Chapter 7 bankruptcy that discharges your debts and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy where the court will supervise a repayment plan.
  2. Look at all your bankruptcy alternatives, including credit counseling and debt settlement.
  3. Meet with a legal aid organization in your area, to see if you qualify for free attorney assistance.
  4. Research whether you are eligible to have the bankruptcy filing fees waived.

Dealing with debt

If you are struggling with debt, you are not alone. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Quarter Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Student loan debt was $1.601 trillion and credit card debt was $1.129 trillion.

According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, about 26% of people in the US have some kind of debt in collections. The median debt in collections is $1,739. Student loans and auto loans are common types of debt. Of people holding student debt, approximately 10% had student loans in collections. The national Auto/Retail debt delinquency rate was 4%.

The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Utah, 19% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1943. Medical debt is common and 12% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $980.

Avoiding collections isn’t always possible. A sudden loss of employment, death in the family, or sickness can lead to financial hardship. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with debt including an aggressive payment plan, debt consolidation loan, or a negotiated settlement.



BBill, Mar, 2010
You should seek advice and counsel from your local or regional community legal center or a consumer advocacy office. They will frequently have low or no cost paralegal help available for you.Hang in there Melissa, and if you really have no assets and no income then bankruptcy sounds like your best alternative.Good luck. Bill
MMelissa Cash, Mar, 2010
i need to claim complete bankruptcy but I have no money, no income.
BBill, Aug, 2009
Every subculture uses its own language to describe concepts and ideas. Most legislators are lawyers, and they tend to write laws using the language they learned in law school. My guess is that you are getting hung up on "real property." Real property is land and buildings permanently affixed to the land. A typical home on a suburban lot is an example of real property. The Empire State Building and the land it is on in Manhattan is real property. The clothing and furniture in a home is also property, but in law-speak, those items are not "real property." A homestead exemption allows the property owner set aside or reserve up to a certain amount of value for their real property, which presumably is their residence.
TTammie, Aug, 2009
I don't understand the Homestead exemption for Colorado."Real property up to $60,000" What does that mean? I feel stupid for not comprehending. I just don't want to lose my home if I have to file.