California Bankruptcy Lawyer and Filing Costs (2024)

Bankruptcy can feel like an overwhelming journey, but understanding the cost to file and the estimated bankruptcy attorney fees in California is the first step.
Information in this article does constitute legal advice, is for informational purposes only and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers should contact their attorney for advice to any particular legal matter.

Bankruptcy can feel like an overwhelming journey, but understanding the basics is the first step. In California, you'll likely encounter two main types: Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13. Chapter 7 is a fresh start, while Chapter 13 involves a repayment plan. Knowing the path you're on will help you plan accordingly.

Filing fees in California can vary, but it's crucial to know the specifics. Based on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in California, as of 2024 the cost to file bankruptcy in California is $338 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $313 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These fees cover the administrative expenses of processing your case within the legal system.

With that said, the process of bankruptcy can be lengthy, unless you have the right information. In this article, we are going to walk you through the costs of both Chapter 7 and 13 and the hidden costs that you’ll most likely encounter.

How Much Do Lawyers Charge in California for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

It's so important to understand whether you can afford the bankruptcy attorney fees that we built the following free attorney fee estimator to help you estimate what the attorney fees may be based on what city/zip code you live in. If helpful, as attorney fees are public information, we also provided actual fees based on the district you live.

Attorney fees in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy are often less expensive than Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Now, you may be thinking, how much do attorney fees cost for a chapter 7? As of 2024, we found that the California Chapter 7 attorney fee range can cost between $862 - $2162 The cost may increase or decrease based on the following factors: Complexity, location, level of attorney connection, and the bankruptcy lawyer's expertise.

Here are some of the ranges of cost in major cities in California.

Attorney Fees in Los Angeles (Central District)

Los Angeles is the most populated city in California with a population of 3,997,984. Bankruptcy attorneys in Los Angeles can cost an estimated $1,500.

Los Angeles is in the California Central Bankruptcy district, so here are some examples of attorneys in that district and what they charged recently for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Please note that this is an estimate.

Here are 2 examples of recent filings:

Example of attorney fees in Los Angeles California Central District.

Attorney Fees in San Diego (Southern District)

Bankruptcy attorneys in San Diego can cost an estimated $1,500.

San Diego is in the California Southern Bankruptcy district, so here are some examples of attorneys in that district and what they charged recently for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Please note that this is an estimate.

Here are 2 examples of recent filings:

Example of attorney fees in San Diego California Southern District.
Another example of attorney fees in San Diego California Southern District.

Attorney Fees in San Francisco (Northern District)

Bankruptcy attorneys in San Francisco can cost an estimated $1,095- $2500

San Francisco is in the California Northern Bankruptcy district, so here are some examples of attorneys in that district and what they charged recently for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Please note that this is an estimate.

Here are 2 examples of recent filings:

Example of attorney fees in San Francisco California Northern District.

Attorney Fees in Sacramento (Eastern District)

Bankruptcy attorneys in Sacramento can cost an estimated $1,500-$2162

Sacramento is in the California Eastern Bankruptcy district, so here are some examples of attorneys in that district and what they charged recently for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Please note that this is an estimate.

Here are 2 examples of recent filings:

Example of attorney fees in Sacramento California Eastern District.
Another example of attorney fees in Sacramento California Eastern District.

Find a local bankruptcy court near you

How much does a lawyer Charge for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in California?

Now, Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys fees in California can cost $3300 - $4800. The fee can depend on the district. 

While Chapter 7 attorney fees have variability, many Chapter 13 fees are relatively similar based on no-look fees, a reasonable cost for the service provided. You may still want to see whether the attorney charges an hourly rate for any additional work after filing the Chapter 13.

Bankruptcy Filing Fees

The US Courthouse has a fee schedule and a bankruptcy form that provides the filing fee.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee is $338 ($245 filing fee $78 administrative fee + $15 trustee surcharge).

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee is $313 ($235 filing fee + $78 administrative fee).

If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be able to pay the filing fee in installments or it could be waived altogether. For more information, please see the California filing fee information and the information below

Additionally, having a bankruptcy attorney by your side can be beneficial. Consider them as financial sherpas, guiding you through the mountains of paperwork. Remember, their fees are an investment in your financial future.

How To Reduce Bankruptcy Costs in California

There are multiple options for you to consider if you want to reduce bankruptcy costs, let's discuss them:

A. Hiring a Remote Attorney

When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you previously were to appear in court for a 341 meeting creditors. However, many things have moved online from COVID. There are actual telephonic instructions for the 341 meeting of creditors now.

So, if you’re comfortable with doing most things remotely, you may save quite a bit if:

  1. You don’t have to take off work to go to a physical consultation and paperwork signing.
  2. You do not have to use your vehicle and gas to go to the consultation.
  3. Reducing attorney costs of having a physical office may reduce his/her fees.

B. Attorney Payment Plans

Thankfully, many bankruptcy attorneys offer payment plans based on a fixed fee to help you receive the debt relief needed. Also, many bankruptcy attorneys may also take Metlife / Hyatt Legal plans.

Finally, many bankruptcy attorneys also offer free consultations. You can meet with several Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyers to find one that offers a payment plan and the fee that you can afford.

C. Filing without an attorney

You are not required to hire a bankruptcy attorney to help you with a Chapter 7 filing. While there are many advantages of hiring a bankruptcy attorney to advise you about your legal rights and options, you can file bankruptcy without an attorney.

Hidden Costs and Unforeseen Expenses

Ah, the hidden costs – the sneaky ninjas of bankruptcy. Unexpected expenses can pop up, catching you off guard. Such as the attorney fees, court costs and the potential loss of assets.

You also may have to pay for transportation to the meeting of creditors at the courthouse. You may also have to pay for a credit report for your attorney (although they may be able to help you with the credit report).

Factor in everything, from credit counseling fees to understanding the impact it can have on your credit. It's better to overestimate and be pleasantly surprised than the other way around.

Alternatives and Decision Making

Bankruptcy is a big decision, and it's not the only path. Explore alternatives like debt settlement, and weigh the pros and cons. Make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. It's about finding the best fit for your unique situation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Impact on Assets (Home, Car, etc.)

Worried about losing your home or car? I get it. Bankruptcy can have implications for your assets, but it's not a total loss. There are strategies to protect what matters most such as “exemptions” meaning certain things could still be kept in your possession. As mentioned above, it really is crucial to speak with a bankruptcy attorney to see what items could be exempt when you file for bankruptcy. It's like playing financial chess – you need a game plan.

Strategies for Rebuilding Finances Post-Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy isn't the end; it's a new beginning. Rebuilding your credit is a crucial step. Think of it as planting seeds for a financial garden that'll bloom in the future. Explore secured credit cards, make timely payments, be healthy on your spending and watch your credit score rise from the ashes.

Over to You

Phew, we've covered a lot! Remember, the journey through bankruptcy costs might be challenging, but it's manageable with the right knowledge and support. Whether you're considering Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, weigh your options, plan for costs, and envision the brighter financial future that lies ahead.

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