How to File Chapter 7 with No Money

Sometimes, paying to go broke doesn't seem like the most logical or straightforward answer to debt relief. In fact, requiring a fee to file bankruptcy, to some, seems like an oxymoron. Nevertheless, in order to discharge debts using Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are filing and attorney fees that must be paid in order to escape your debt. Individuals that are struggling with debt who otherwise would be very interested in filing bankruptcy, feel that it is simply too far out of their reach to become a reality. If this describes you then read on, as we explain how to file chapter 7 with no money.

File Chapter 7 with No Money

If you think you are unable to afford Chapter 7, it could be that you haven't done enough research. Still, others put off filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy until all their money runs out and they truly can't raise enough money to cover the fees associated with bankruptcy. If you haven't spoken with a bankruptcy attorney, it's highly advisable that you do so. Many bankruptcy lawyers offer payment plans, which can help you get to the filing stage of the bankruptcy process so that you can obtain debt relief. If you have interviewed several California bankruptcy attorneys and still do not believe that you can pay for a Chapter 7, don't give up; there are several other options that may be able to assist you in your debt relief endeavor. If you can't afford a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney, a few other options to consider are:

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead

Unlike Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, in a Chapter 13 filing, you can add your attorney fees to the bankruptcy estate and pay them back through your repayment plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs drastically from Chapter 7 and might not be the right solution for all debtors. If you think Chapter 13 bankruptcy might be a better route for you to take, definitely get the assistance of a bankruptcy lawyer to help explain the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 and to make sure that you'll have enough money to fund a three-five year repayment plan.

Locate a pro bono bankruptcy attorney

Attorneys typically set aside a certain amount of time for pro bono or free work. In fact, the American Bar Association actually encourages attorneys to provide a certain amount of pro bono hours each year as a form of giving back to the community. As such, the American Bar Association keeps a pro bono directory for California. Additionally, you can get more information on finding a pro bono lawyer from your local chapter of the bar association as well as your state's. As the last word of advice on having a pro bono attorney file your bankruptcy, make sure to ask the attorney what their exposure is to bankruptcy law. When drowning in debt we know you can't be too picky, but bankruptcy law can be complex and you need an experienced lawyer to reach a successful debt relief conclusion.

Locate free legal clinic or Legal Aid

The nation's oldest form of public defense, Legal Aid, is designed to offer free legal assistance when finances and the cost of hiring someone would otherwise deter them from getting the debt relief they desperately need. Legal aid is available to individuals with annual household incomes below federal poverty guidelines, and so obtaining this type of legal help requires that you show a definite need.

Free legal clinics operate in the same fashion as legal aid, where bankruptcy attorneys volunteer their time and expertize to those unable to afford Chapter 7 bankruptcy. They may help with preparing bankruptcy petitions and schedules, attending 341 meeting of creditors, and advising on Chapter 7 bankruptcy matters. There are a number of free or low-cost legal service options for individuals living in Sacramento and the surrounding counties, such as the Volunteer Legal Services Program of Northern California.

Filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy on Your Own

The decision to file chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own is a tough one, and the most ill-advised. Filing bankruptcy without the assistance of an attorney is referred to as "filing pro se", and according to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court figures, has a notoriously low rate of successful discharge. Nearly half of all cases of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney end up with a dismissal without debt relief. Even those individuals that have filed bankruptcy and wiped out their debt alone have said they would not recommend it.

Nevertheless, if you do decide to take on filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your own, you'll need the minimum of $335 for the Chapter 7 filing fee, as well as, the money needed to pay for your required credit counseling and debt education courses. These are both mandatory courses if you want to receive a discharge of debt from the Courts and usually cost $25-75 dollars. If you do decide to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy without a lawyer, you're in for a tremendous amount of research and learning, as you'll need to fill out a bankruptcy petition and corresponding bankruptcy schedules with 100% accuracy, plan for the tax consequences of filing, decide which exemptions you can qualify for, and discover the local bankruptcy law procedures in your district. For those seeking Sacramento bankruptcy assistance and information, you can visit the US Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California.


The decision to file bankruptcy is not one to be made lightly, however, you should know by now that even if you are insolvent and can't afford bankruptcy, you can file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy with nearly no money. However, because of all the options available to you, getting the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney is invaluable and worth more in the long run than the little money you save by going it alone. If you need help with debt relief immediately, contact your local bankruptcy lawyer. Sacramento bankruptcy attorneys typically offer a free consolation so you can discover your best debt relief solution and payment options to ascertain professional assistance.

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