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Bankruptcy Court Fee Structure, Attorney’s Fees, and Other Costs of Filing

When debtors file bankruptcy they must pay the bankruptcy court a filing fee, payable to the Clerk of Court for the United States Bankruptcy Court. Currently, the filing fees are $281 for a chapter 13 bankruptcy, $306 for a chapter 7 bankruptcy, and $1069 for a chapter 11 bankruptcy. The law breaks down each of these fees into different components of the bankruptcy court system that each component of this fee goes to pay, but that is totally irrelevant to debtors.

The fees are charged on the debtors attorneys registered credit card by the clerk of court when the attorney istock_000003952856xsmallelectronically files the case and the debtor, basically, is reimbursing his attorney for the charge on his attorney’s credit card.

The new bankruptcy law placed many burdens on the debtor’s attorney to investigate debtor’s affairs to ensure the information given to the attorney by the debtor and subsequently filed with the bankruptcy court is as complete and correct as possible. Keep in mind that everything filed with the bankruptcy court by debtors is filed under penalty of perjury.

For that reason most attorneys are having to use outside help to verify debtor’s information and those costs are passed on to the debtor just like the court filing fees. Some examples are that I have to pay to check the three major credit reporting agencies because I have a service which charges to import credit data into my file. I charge $50 for this service. I cannot guarantee that it is correct, but it is better than nothing. Also, if it is necessary I pay a title abstractor $50 to search at the county courthouse for liens and transfers and assets. ¬†Also for your convenience, we will help you do the required credit counseling at our office using an internet service (Hummingbird Credit Counseling, which you can also do at home. The link is on the Links page on this website). For that help and the use of the computers and our time we charge $35, even if it takes you 5 hours.

Of course, you also have to pay the credit counselor’s fee, which, for Hummingbird in SC is $49 for the credit counseling class and $19 per debtor for the debt management class. For NC residents the Hummingbird fee is $34 for the credit counseling and $9 for the debt mangagement class.

Different attorneys use different services and costs may vary.

Attorney’s fees vary from case-to-case and an attorney cannot just say “This is what it costs to do a chapter 7 or chapter 13”. This is because every case has a totally different set of facts, a different number of creditors, a different emergency that needs to be taken into account, and other type of variables. Attorney’s fees usually are paid as a fixed fee, which means that once you pay the set fees and costs, there are no other costs for normal cases. Some attorneys advertise or tell you on the telephone that their fees start at a certain amount, which is low, but they usually charge more than that once you are in their office. It really almost is impossible to give a definite idea of how complicated a particular bankruptcy is without an office consultation…..and how many creditors you have is not the biggest determinant of fee cost!

The range of attorneys fee’s is from around $1000 or more for a chapter 7 bankruptcy (a complicated case for a self-employed person, a truck driver, or a person with lots of creditors or lawsuits could be as much as $2500), but I have charged less than $1000(which is why I tell you to just come in for an office visit).

For a chapter 13, pretty much everyone charges the court-approved minimum fee of $3500 in SC and $3950 in NC, but most of that fee is not paid up front. I put most of it under the chapter 13 payment plan so that I am paid by you through the court over months or years, depending on what the court’s rules and trustee’s practices are in a given area. IF YOU QUALIFY, I will not charge any of the attorney’s fees up front and will charge all of the attorney’s fees in the plan. You will have to pay the above-mentioned costs up front, though. These total around $400, plus or minus.

Of course, for all attorney’s fees our office will give you quite a bit of time to make payments on the attorney’s fees and costs after you have paid a down payment. You just have to pay all of the up front money before we actually prepare the bankruptcy paperwork in a chapter 7 and whatever fees required for a chapter 13. We will let you refer creditors to us after you pay the down payment, however.

You must pay your fees with cash, money orders, certified checks or other similar methods. Our office does not take debit cards, personal checks or credit cards…… or spittoons.

Showell’s grandfather’s first legal fee paid to him: Spittoon, circa. 1929, for filing a bankruptcy.
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