Giving out fee quotations before having a full consultation regarding your situation is virtually impossible. You should know that the attorney fees must be disclosed in your court filings, must be fair and are subject to court approval. The fees I (or anyone) charge for a bankruptcy depend on numerous factors, including what chapter you are filing under, the complexity of the case, anticipated problems from creditors, the Trustee or the court, the number of creditors, specific geographic area, etc.
As with any personal service situation, everything is subject to negotiation. I endeavor to work with all my clients so that they are comfortable with the payment amounts and that our arrangement meets court approval.
COURT FILING FEES
These are fees set and charged by the court and are required to file any bankruptcy in addition to any attorneys fees. Such fees do not go to the attorney.
Court fees are:
- Chapter 7: $335.00
*The courts occasionally allow this filing fee to be paid in installments upon approval of an application showing need and necessity.
I STRIVE TO MAKE MY FEES FAIR TO ALL
My fees for the various chapters are extremely competitive. Can you find lower fees elsewhere? Possibly. But what are the benefits you obtain and how much money are you really saving? We all like to think that all attorneys and doctors are equally competent, but it is simply not true. There are good doctors and hopelessly bad doctors and the same is true of attorneys. I'm not suggesting that just because an attorney charges lower fees that he is incompetent. The overriding decision on who to select should not be based solely on the fees charged.
There are a lot of bankruptcy attorneys out there...just like there are a lot of doctors. What amazes me is that people would almost never go to a doctor who charges "bargain basement" prices for something serious. Wouldn't that make you skeptical? So, why would you do that with an attorney who is essentially helping your financial future?
When selecting an attorney, you need to ask several important questions:
1. Am I comfortable with this attorney?
2. Does this attorney have the experience to handle the problems that may arise in my case?
3. Is the attorney handling the main portions of my case himself, or delegating the work to secretaries or paralegals?
4. What am I getting for my fees? This last question deserves some attention. I see all kinds of advertisements by attorneys offering bankruptcies at ungodly low attorneys fees with the disclaimer that says "fees starting at...". I would be most curious to find out if the attorneys actually take any cases at that amount. I sincerely doubt it.
5. Does your attorney provide a retainer agreement or services contract outlining specifically what is covered for your fees and addressing the responsibilities of both you and the attorney?
The retainer agreement is not required, but should be given by any attorney. You should demand it so that there is no question about what you are paying for.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT THE FILING FEES AND ATTORNEY FEES? One admittedly big problem people facing bankruptcy often have, of course, is a lack of cash. However, there are ways to free up cash once you understand how the system works. For example, if your cash flow is low because you are making minimum payments on your credit cards, you may be able to stop (in most cases) making those payments and save up some money for attorneys' fees (don't do this without advice of your attorney). There are also ways, depending on what Chapter you are filing under, to make payments over time or to obtain some money from sale of assets. In any event, there is usually a way to make it work.