We understand this and are here to help. Not only do we keep our fees reasonable, but we also allow payment plans. Here is the breakdown:
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Fees: In the majority of cases, our firm chooses to receive payment of our attorney fees through the Chapter 13 plan. We do this for a variety of reasons:
- To ensure upfront fees don’t become a barrier to our clients resolving their debts and receiving court protection and favorable repayment terms through Chapter 13.
- If the fees are paid through the plan, in most cases they are supplemented by your creditors. This means that it usually doesn’t cost you extra in the repayment process to have our representation. How is this? A Chapter 13 is based on your ability to pay and your available net income after the payment of your fixed living expenses, not necessarily your outstanding indebtedness. The attorney fees will be paid as part of your reorganization payment, a part of what we’ve proposed is available net income. In other words, the proposed payment would be required just by virtue of your ability to pay, but we can propose that those funds be paid toward attorney fees instead of unsecured debt. Your repayment plan is established with payment priorities:
1st: Your monthly living expenses (food, transportation, clothing, medical expenses, etc.)
2nd: Secured debt and arrearages (mortgage, car payments, etc.)
3rd: Priority debt such as income tax liabilities and child support obligations
4th, and lastly: Your general unsecured creditors (credit cards, medical bills, second mortgage or home equity loan, etc.).
They only receive whatever discretionary funds are left in the monthly budget after the above items have been paid. Many Chapter 13 Plans only propose to pay a small percentage back to the general unsecured creditors. By including your attorney’s fees as part of the Chapter 13 Plan, the percentage to general unsecured creditors can be reduced even more which does not create additional obligation in your budget. By electing to take our attorney fees through the Chapter 13 plan, your creditors are in effect subsidizing your attorney’s fees versus additional money out of your pocket.
- Court filing fee: $370.00 – 410.00 (variance based on single vs. joint filing, includes mandated credit counseling and merged credit report)
- All Attorney fees must be approved and ordered by the Bankruptcy Court.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees: Attorney fees for Chapter 7 proceedings are paid to us directly vs. administered by a Trustee in Chapter 13 cases. You have the option to pay $0 down and finance the fees with a 3rdparty agency after the case has been filed. Or you have the option to pre-pay the fees prior to filing. We do allow payment of these fees over a six (6) month time period. During this time, we will:
- Set up a file.
- Take your creditor calls and explain your intentions to them.
- Begin the process of gathering the necessary documentation.
Our firm strives to strike the perfect balance between reasonable rates and top-notch service. In 2005 the bankruptcy laws changed (Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act or BAPCPA) adding additional requirements and generally making it more complicated to complete the process of Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is important to work with an attorney who specializes in bankruptcy and has past experience and success with their clients’ cases.
According Lois Lupica, principal investigator in a study of the2005 law change conducted by National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges Endowment for Education and American Bankruptcy Institutes:
“It takes more skill and experience to responsibly and professionally represent consumer debtors than it used to. There is a greater need to have a nuanced understanding of the dissonance between how the system is designed to work in theory, and how it works in practice. Moreover, the system is less tolerant of mistakes and yet there are so many more opportunities presented by BAPCPA for even seasoned attorneys. (Source: Consumer Bankruptcy News, 1/20/12)
The old adage, “you get what you pay for” seems to apply here. Carefully examine the firm that you intend to hire.
- See how long they have practiced in the bankruptcy field;
- Investigate if they have positive client reviews and satisfied client testimonials on their website;
- Determine if they have professional associations with national and local organizations;
- Review their rating with your local Better Business Bureau;
- Court filing fee: $395 - $430 (variance based on single vs. joint filing, includes mandated credit counseling and merged credit report);
- Attorney fees are set by individual firms, but are overseen by the United States Trustees office. Usually once you determine that you are filing you can cease making payments to unsecured creditors (card cards, medical bills, personal loans, etc.) since the debts will soon be eliminated. This frees up money in your budget to pay the necessary fees to file.