How Much Does it Cost to File Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania?
It is understandable to be concerned about the cost of bankruptcy if you are considering filing. However, you should not let fears about bankruptcy’s costs prevent you from exploring your options. While bankruptcy is not free, most people find that the associated expenses and filing fees are negligible compared to the debt relief and other financial benefits that bankruptcy in Pennsylvania can provide.
If you or one of your loved ones is concerned about foreclosure, has resorted to using credit cards to cover daily necessities, or simply needs help managing debts which have grown overwhelming, bankruptcy may be an appropriate strategy for solving financial problems and regaining control of your life. To learn more about the benefits of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania, please do not hesitate to contact Sadek & Cooper Law Offices at (215) 995-2543 for a free and completely confidential legal consultation.
What Are the Bankruptcy Court Filing Fees for a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Case in PA?
Most individuals file for either Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a relatively speedy process in which a court official called a trustee sells of some of your property in order to help repay your debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a lengthier, more complicated process in which filers may keep more of their property in exchange for creating a three- to five-year repayment plan with their creditors. A bankruptcy attorney in Pennsylvania can help you determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you.
There are several court fees associated with filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania:
- Administrative Fees
- Filing Fees
- Trustee Surcharge Fees (Chapter 7)
According to the 2017 schedule of bankruptcy fees supplied by the United States Bankruptcy Court, the total court cost for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania is $335. This figure is unchanged from 2016. As the 2016 fee schedule explains, the $335 total cost includes the following fees:
- Administrative Fee – $75
- Filing Fee – $245
- Trustee Surcharge Fee – $15
Like Chapter 7 cases, Chapter 13 bankruptcies also have filing fees and administrative fees. However, there is no trustee surcharge fee in a Chapter 13 case.
As of 2017, the total court cost to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania is $310. This figure is also unchanged from 2016. The $310 total amount includes:
- Administrative Fee – $75
- Filing Fee – $235
There are also additional fees for processes which do not arise in every case, such as converting to a different chapter. For instance, it costs $25 to convert Chapter 13 to Chapter 7.
How Much Do Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Classes Cost?
In addition to the court-related fees listed above, there are also some additional expenses associated with:
- Completing the mandatory debtor education and credit counseling components of bankruptcy.
- Hiring an attorney to handle your bankruptcy case.
- Obtaining a credit report.
The costs of credit counseling, which precedes bankruptcy, and debtor education, which precedes discharge, can vary depending on which service or agency you choose. However, generally speaking, providers tend to charge around $15 to $25 for each service, for a total cost of about $30 to $50.
Note that the service or agency you select must be approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which provides state-specific lists on its website. Listed below are a few examples of the credit counseling and debtor education fees charged by several DOJ-approved agencies in Pennsylvania:
- Debtor CC
- Credit Counseling – $14.95
- Debtor Education – $9.95
- Online Bankruptcy Class
- Credit Counseling – $24 to $25
- Debtor Education – $23 to $24
- Simple Class
- Credit Counseling – $23.95
- Debtor Education – $23.95
You can obtain a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian – once every 12 months, and the cost for an additional copy is low. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is an agency of the federal government, “By law, a credit reporting company can charge no more than $12.00 for a credit report.”
Attorney Fees for Bankruptcy Lawyers in Philadelphia, Bucks, and Delaware County
Most people who are considering bankruptcy will at some point ask themselves whether hiring a Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyer is “really worth it.” For your own financial protection, it is vital that you are represented by a skilled and experienced attorney. Even Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is the simplest form of consumer bankruptcy, can be very complex, and any omission or error could set your case back considerably – potentially even leading to the dismissal of your case.
Simply consider the following quote, which is taken directly from the website of the U.S. Courts: “Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice.” Further, “[S]eeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes.”
Ultimately, the cost of foregoing legal representation is likely to be far greater than the cost of hiring an attorney to assist with your case. This is especially true if you are considering Chapter 13, which involves a complicated, long-term reorganization or repayment plan to which you are expected to adhere rigidly.
Sadek & Cooper Law Offices charges a minimum fee of:
- Chapter 7 Cases – $1,250
- Chapter 13 Cases – $3,000 to $3,500
These fees cover the following bankruptcy legal services in Pennsylvania:
- Appearing at your meeting of creditors (also called the “341 meeting” or “341 hearing”).
- Handling all contact with your creditors, including written notices and phone calls.
- Preparing your paperwork.
- Providing counsel and answering questions.
- Representation during all Chapter 13 hearings and confirmation procedures.
If you are struggling to get your finances under control, bankruptcy can help eliminate debt, stop creditor harassment, delay foreclosure and repossession, position you to start building better credit, and offer other benefits. To talk about Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Pennsylvania, call Sadek & Cooper Law Offices at (215) 995-2543 for a free and confidential legal consultation.