Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Help! I'm confused about this entire process...

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  • Help! I'm confused about this entire process...

    A good friend referred me to a bankruptcy attorney she's had experience with. It appears that I may not be eligible for a Chp 7 but was told to complete a packet which included all my financial info so they could get a better idea (I guess this would go into a means test). I was told that before anything could be done I'd have to pay the entire fee of $1870 for Chp 7 (including court fee).

    What if I don't qualify for Chp 7? She'll likely increase her fee for Chp 13. I'm having a hard enough time coming up with the $1870 (especially before my creditors decide to start garnishing my wages...who knows how long before that happens). I thought a means test could be done prior to retaining the services of an attorney, like as part of the consultation? Sorry if that sounds ludicrous to some, but I've never dealt with attorneys and I'm just lost about this entire process. I stopped paying my creditors a few months ago because I had to make a decision between paying all of them and affording the basic monthly necessities.

    Can someone explain how this works, please? Also, would it be best to just do a Debt Management Plan instead of doing a Chp. 13?

  • #2
    In a chapter 7 you have to pay your attorney before filing because otherwise the balance becomes nondischargable. Depending on the local court rules you may be able to pay all or part of the court fees in installments after filing. Your attorney should be able to tell you after asking some questions during the free consultation if you'll be eligible. Just because you are over the median income doesn't mean you can't do a chapter 7. More work is required but it's not a certainty that you're stuck to a chapter 13.

    Always advised to consult with multiple attorneys. They will all try to steer you to chapter 7 unless a chapter 13 would benefit you more or you're clearly not eligible for a chapter 7. Say you own a house with a lot of equity or you have plenty of disposable income when all debts are removed then a chapter 13 would work .

    If you file a chapter 7 and are found to be ineligible you can convert to a chapter 13.

    Chapter 13s have a low discharge rate but it doesn't mean a low success rate. It's not unheard of for people to voluntarily dismiss their case in a chapter 13 when they only have one creditor left to pay and it would be easier to work directly with them for instance.


    • #3
      An attorney cannot always tell you whether you will qualify for a Chap 7 at a consultation. Completing the means test may be the only way to know for sure and it takes a significant amount of work to do that. My impression from years on this forum is that it is rare for an attorney to run the means test before getting paid.

      If you do have to convert to a Chap 13, the additional attorney fees can probably be included in your plan. Ask the attorney.

      Many people have tried debt management plans only to end up in bankruptcy anyway. Your creditors don't have to participate in the plan and all may not. Unlike a Chap 13, interest continues to accrue in a DMP, even if a creditor agrees to a reduction. In a DMP you are at the mercy of the creditors to agree to a plan. In a Chap 13, what you have to pay will be limited by your disposable income unless you have non exempt assets or arrears on secured debt that must be paid in your plan. Your creditors have very little control in a Chap 13.

      Have you been sued yet? A creditor has to sue and get a judgement before they can garnish your wages.
      LadyInTheRed is in the black!
      Filed Chap 13 April 2010. Discharged May 2015.
      $143,000 in debt discharged for $36,500, including attorneys fees. Money well spent!


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