How much does it cost to file for Bankruptcy?

Cost to file bankruptcy in Dayton Ohio include the filing fees, (court costs), credit counseling cost, credit report fee, cost to obtain required documents, and legal fees. The court costs are set by the Bankruptcy Court. The other costs and legal fees vary.

Court Costs to file bankruptcy in Dayton Ohio

Filing fees, or court costs, for a chapter 7 are $335.

Filing fees, or court costs, for a chapter 13 are $315.

The costs are the same for a joint case and an individual case, and are the same throughout Ohio.

There are other court costs if you need to amend a pleading, $31, or if you have to file motions for relief from stay, or reopen a closed case.  These can be found at:

https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/fees/bankruptcy-court-miscellaneous-fee-schedule

Note that this page is somewhat confusing.  All the fee components are listed separately, in various components, but it doesn’t total them for you.

What you need to know is:

$335 for a chapter 7, $315 for a chapter 13, and any amendments are $31.

Other costs to file bankruptcy in Dayton Ohio

Credit Counseling Fee

Everyone who files a bankruptcy, either chapter 7 or chapter 13, must complete a mandatory credit counseling course before their case is filed. And, after the case is filed, in order to obtain a discharge (which is the goal of the bankruptcy) you must complete a Financial Management Course.

In practice, these are videos which you will watch, and afterwards you will typically call the company sponsoring the video and verify that you did, in fact, watch the video.

This is required by bankruptcy law. If you file a case without first completing the required credit counseling course, the court will dismiss your case.  Similarly, if you do not complete the required Financial management course, the court will not issue a discharge. Your case will be closed, no discharge will be granted, and you will still owe the debts listed which would have been discharged.

The cost for the two courses varies from vendor to vendor, and is typically in a range of $20 to $50 for both of them.

Credit Report

It is required that you list all of your creditors in any type of  bankruptcy.   Although credit reporting is not mandatory, most creditors do report your debts to the credit bureaus. Therefore, it is considered standard practice and due diligence to obtain a credit report as part of the bankruptcy preparation.

While everyone can get a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com once a year it is not customary for bankruptcy attorneys to use these credit reports. These reports lack much of the necessary information to prepare a bankruptcy petition.

Instead, the common practice is for the attorney to order a credit report from a vendor who will provide the report which includes complete addresses, account numbers and other information in a way that will automatically become part of the bankruptcy petition.

These reports range from $20 to $50 each.

Other document costs

There are many documents which must be obtained and reviewed by the attorney in the preparation of a bankruptcy petition. Often the client has the documents, or they are available online at no cost.

Deeds and Mortgages

Examples include recorded deeds and mortgages. These can be found online for most counties, and are available at no charge.  Some counties, Miami, Preble, Champaign, for example, do not have all their documents online.  It is necessary to pay for copies of recorded deeds and mortgages. The cost is usually $22 to $50, depending on the number of copies needed.

Appraisal fees

In both chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases it is not uncommon to have a judgment lien “stripped off” of your real estate.  In chapter 13 cases, even junior mortgages and HELOCs (home equity line of credit) can sometimes be removed.  In order to accomplish this, the court requires that an actual appraisal, not just a tax appraisal, be field with the court.  Fees for appraisals run from $150 to $300.

Tax Transcripts

It is a requirement that the last two years taxes, in Chapter 7, and three or four years in chapter 13, be provided to the trustee. I have found that often my clients do not have copies because they filed their taxes online with turbo tax, or they have lost or misplaced the pdf copy of their returns.

If you don’t have the tax return, we can get a transcript, either from the IRS or State of Ohio at no cost, or, if you need it quickly, they can be purchased from a private service. The cost is typically $15 to $20 per transcript.

Other documents

Car titles, or memo titles are required for vehicles.  If you do not have the title you will need to get one from the BMV. Sometimes there is an auto accident debt we are discharging and we need an accident report to be absolutely sure we list all potential parties in your case. These documents typically cost $4 to $15.

Cost to file in Dayton Ohio Legal Fees

The legal fee costs to file are different for chapter 7 and chapter 13.

Most of the time attorneys will charge a “flat” fee for chapter 7, depending on the complexity of the case.  Some attorneys will charge a “standard” or “base” fee, and reserve the right to charge more if issues arise which were not foreseen at the time the case was started. This does happen occasionally and the courts have approved agreements which provide for additional attorney fees if additional work needs to be done.

I believe it is unprofessional, and, really, impossible to quote a fee on the phone. I know many attorneys do this. It is like calling a doctor and asking for the price of an operation or treatment before the doctor even examines you!

The only way you can really know what a bankruptcy, or any other legal service, would cost will always require an analysis of your situation, your circumstances, and careful consideration of your total financial picture.  Nevertheless, quoting fees blindly, without any investigation into your personal details, is a fairly common practice.  If you think about it, it makes little sense.

In a chapter 7 all of the costs and attorney fees are generally paid before the case is filed. This is because the unpaid balance, if any would be discharged in the bankruptcy.

Some attorneys have attempted to get around this by “bifurcating” fees, charging one fee for work done up to the date of filing of the case, and then another fee, to be paid after filing, for work done after the case is field.

Courts have approved some of these agreements, and have not approved others. The overall consensus, in my opinion, of the courts on this matter is that the bifurcation of fees is not favored by most courts.

In a chapter 13, there are two types of fee agreements, and you are not required to pay the entire fee before your case is filed. In fact, the standard practice is to pay some of the fee in a chapter 13 case before filing, and the majority of the legal fee is paid as part of the plan payment over the life of the plan.

NO-LOOK Chapter 13 fees

The “No-Look” fee is the most widely used fee arrangement for Dayton Ohio bankruptcy attorneys.  This fee arrangement sets a “standard fee” for the basic duties which must be done in a chapter 13 bankruptcy case. You can read the list of the services covered in the “no-look” fee on the court’s website. They are found in the Local Rules.

When using the “no look” fee arrangement, the attorney is not required to track time or submit any itemized statements to you or the court.  The court presumes that the “no-look” fee, currently $3,700 for the Dayton Ohio bankruptcy court, will adequately cover the legal services in most cases.

The other fee arrangement in chapter 13 is for the attorney to submit itemized fees.  In this fee arrangement, the attorney and his staff track their time and submit detailed records to the court to be inspected and if the court finds the fees reasonable and necessary for the case, they are approved and paid through the chapter 13 plan.

Not many Dayton bankruptcy attorneys use this fee arrangement, but it has advantages, and you, as a client, might actually prefer it.

With the “no-look” fee, there is generally no record kept of tasks done or how much time the tasks took or, for that matter, who did the task, who checked the task, etc.  The itemized fee arrangement addresses this by requiring detailed records to be kept.

Suggestions for how to think about the cost to file bankruptcy in Dayton Ohio

Having been a bankruptcy attorney in Dayton Ohio for over 30 years, I know that it is common for individuals with debt problems to have a “I need a cheap bankruptcy” mindset.

It’s understandable.

This is the frame of mind you have when you are thinking about filing bankruptcy and wondering how you will pay for it.

You have no money for bills!

How are you going to pay for bankruptcy when you have no money?

Seems like a cruel joke.  Can’t afford to pay bills. So can’t afford to file bankruptcy.

Hang on.  Slow down.  Take a deep breath.

You are not alone.  You have a lot of company.

Especially during these unprecedented times.

In my experience, we can normally find a way to get your bankruptcy filed and not cut corners.

The “cheap attorney” mindset can cause you to NOT get the full relief you really need.

You might get a bankruptcy discharge without any serious problems, but you probably won’t get the full financial recovery you could get if you avoid the temptation to be “penny wise and pound foolish.”

Your financial recovery is probably your most important goal right now.

You need the BEST advice you can get.

Consider this medical analogy.  Imagine you had chest pains.  You think your heart is going to explode.  You are pretty sure you are going to have a stroke any second.  You’re worried you might have a heart attack.

When this happens, you DON’T  select a cardiac surgeon y looking for the cheapest doc you can find, do you?

Of course not.  It’s totally out of the question.  Your life is on the line.  You need a real board certified specialist.

But this is EXACTLY what people do when they have serious debt problems that demand expert help.

How can you afford the help you need when your budget is so tight?

Lots of attorneys have payment plans.

Good attorneys will be able to help you find the way to get the best solution and be able to afford it.

You get what you pay for in life.  We all know this.

Your financial recovery is worth every penny a real board certified bankruptcy specialist costs.

Especially considering that bankruptcy mistakes can be extremely costly, and once made, are often impossible to fix.  This is such a serious problem that recently a legal malpractice insurance company warned attorneys not to dabble in the complex area of bankruptcy.

You need to be successful in your financial recovery!

It’s the most important factor in your future financial success.

Price, while a factor, is NOT the most important factor.  High quality legal work gives you the edge, sets you up for a successful recovery.  But you won’t get it at bottom-of-the-barrel prices. The cost to file bankruptcy in Dayton Ohio is much more involved than calling around to get the cheapest lawyer you can find.