What is UpSolve?
You may or may not have heard of UpSolve, but if your income is below the state median, and your bankruptcy is simple (and isn't about student loan debt), UpSolve may be able to help you file your bankruptcy paperwork with their free app.
The Upsolve "tool" guides you through the process of uploading your necessary information, and filling in the required forms, via an interview-based process like TurboTax, or WillMaker.
It was launched in Brooklyn by a couple of Harvard "social entrepreneurs", who would be called public interest lawyers, but one of them is not a lawyer... hence the moniker "civil rights entrepreneur."
I've met the founder, Rohan. He came up to Berkeley and introduced himself when he was at the Y-Combinator down in Stanford. He's a good guy.. He thanked me for blazing the "access to law" trail with Nolo — a trail which he has so aptly taken and continues to blaze in new directions. UpSolve has taken up the mantle that uncontested legal matters should not require a lawyer — an idea that was advocated back in the 1970's by Ralph Warner & Ed Sherman of the California do-it-yourself-law publisher Nolo Press, whom I joined in 1987 and worked with for 17 years (before getting restless and launching this site).
UpSolve is what is known as a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (a BPP). That is, a service that can help prepare your bankruptcy petition, but can't give you advice along the way.
BPPs have been around for a long time. But UpSolve has automated the bankruptcy petition preparation process and made it free, thanks to nonprofit funding — and a business model that knows that a certain percentage of users won't qualify for their free tool, and are turned into paid leads, sold to local bankruptcy lawyers for free consultations.
In UpSolve's words..
Although many of UpSolve’s informational articles are drafted or reviewed by attorneys, Upsolve is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. By using Upsolve, you do not enter any form of attorney-client relationship with Upsolve.
UpSolve provides an online web app that helps you file for bankruptcy for free on your own, if you have a simple case and pass their eligibility criteria. They do not provide any form of legal advice and absolutely no communication between you and Upsolve should be considered legal advice.
If you do not qualify for UpSolve's free web app, or you do not want to use it, they provide access to private independent attorneys at your specific direction. Attorneys pay Upsolve for the chance to provide free evaluations to people who ask for them.
UpSolve's revenue model generated more than $400,000 in lead based revenue from private attorneys, according to their 2021 partner letter.
Note: Selling leads to attorneys is the same way that LegalConsumer.com makes money. It's the way pretty much all free information services make money, by charging advertisers rather than users.
Who Qualifies for UpSolve's free app?
If you meet their criteria, UpSolve offers a service where you can upload your information and pay stubs and get back filled in schedules for you to submit to the court.
UpSolve can be.a handy tool for debtors who:
- don't own real estate
- have income less than the state median
- debt is not primarily student loan debt
- situation requires no "adversary proceedings" or "lien avoidance"
- Have filed their tax return for the current tax year
- have pay stubs to submit
They'll also tell you who is going to be your trustee and give you a brief video of what to expect when you meet with the trustee at the 341 meeting.
It's still up to you to complete credit counseling, but they have some built in offers for that too.
Should you use it?
All in all, UpSolve does a decent job of automating the bankruptcy filing for those debtors who don't have real estate, and who owe the right kind of debt, and have income low enough to qualify for their free service.