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How Much Debt Must I Have to File for Bankruptcy? Can I Have Too Much Debt to File for Bankruptcy?

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How much debt is enough to file for bankruptcy protection?

I recently had a client sit for a free bankruptcy consultation. Her intakes showed approximately $8500 in debt and she wanted to file for bankruptcy protection.

How much debt must you have to file bankruptcy? Can you have too much debt to file for bankruptcy? What is the magic debt number that makes filing for bankruptcy a sensible choice? As an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, I can tell you with confidence that a discrete number simply doesn’t exist (hey now, don’t shoot he messenger).

In the case of my client above, I tried to discourage her from filing. Even with my cheap bankruptcy lawyer fees, the cost of filing for bankruptcy is upwards of $1000. In addition, a pretty good chunk of time must be devoted to the process. Therefore, the actual benefit of filing is much less than the $8500 discharged.

However, this client had recently been surprised with a 20% wage garnishment and could no longer afford her monthly budget. In addition, her car was almost $15,000 underwater and she showed interest in relieving herself of that liability. All of a sudden, bankruptcy looked like a good option for her.

The point I am trying to make is that no two situations are alike. Therefore, it is impossible to make sweeping generalizations about who should file for bankruptcy protection. Instead, I recommend that you meet with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in order to discuss all possible options.

One final note takes a look at the the other end of the spectrum. It is possible to have TOO MUCH debt to file for bankruptcy. Note that this doesn’t apply to all bankruptcy cases, and instead is limited to those filed under chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code. 

In a chapter 13 case, The Bankruptcy Code dictates that you have less than $1,081,400 in secured debts and less than $360,475  in unsecured debt. If you do not meet these requirements, you may be limited to filing under chapter 7 or chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. Again, an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can explain the options available to your specific scenario.

If you are currently located in Maricopa, Pinal or Pima counties, I am an experienced bankruptcy lawyer that offers free bankruptcy consultations to all potential chapter 7 and chapter 13 clients. Simply shoot me an e-mail or call my office directly at 602-515-0841 or 520-461-1077. I look forward to meeting you.

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