The True Costs Of Filing For Bankruptcy
While every case evolves in its own way, there is a basic pattern to most bankruptcy cases. First, the person needing to file for bankruptcy contacts a lawyer. The lawyer evaluates the case by asking questions and for documentation (like the documents on the main page of this website); outlines options and makes a recommendation; and quotes a fee based on the facts of the case.
The lawyer then prepares forms that will be filed with the bankruptcy court to begin the case. A meeting takes place at which those forms are reviewed, corrected and updated, and signed. The forms are filed with the court and the bankruptcy case begins.
In some cases, the meetings occur by phone and documents are exchanged by fax, mail, and/or email. There is no one way that suits all, and at Johnston, Stannard, Klesner, Burbidge & Fitzgerald, P.L.C., we aim to meet our clients’ individual needs.
Lack of money is the root of all evil. — George Bernard Shaw
The fees commonly charged by bankruptcy lawyers are very affordable compared to most other legal services and especially when you consider what you get for the price — forgiveness of tens of thousands of dollars in most cases. A few phone calls to different lawyers will reveal that their fees vary, sometimes by hundreds of dollars. You should call around if you only want to know which lawyer is the least expensive.
If you want to know which lawyers will provide you good service, then you’ll need to take a different approach. The best way to pick a lawyer is to ask friends, family, or other lawyers for a referral to someone they recommend.
Some lawyers file large numbers of bankruptcies and charge very little. You should know that those lawyers are only profitable if very little individual attention is given to each client. We believe clients deserve better service than they usually receive at these firms.
How Less Expensive May Cost You
Even less expensive are bankruptcy petition preparers. These persons are not lawyers and almost always — despite their denials — offer legal advice they are not allowed to give and are not competent to give. Bankruptcy law is complex — no case is “simple” — and the consequences of bad advice case can be severe. Do not take advice from anyone who is not an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
The fee we charge depends on the complexity of each case, which affects the amount of time we will need to devote to the case.
The total cost of a typical Chapter 7 case will range between $1,500 and $2,000, plus the court’s filing fee. The fee sometimes is paid in full before the case is filed, and sometimes in other ways, such as a payment plan. For that fee, you will get the time and attention you and your case need and deserve, together will an experienced and well-trained staff.
We spend time with you to get to know you and your situation, to assess your case and to review in detail the bankruptcy forms you will sign and submit to the court. We also constantly review our procedures to ensure we provide the highest quality of legal representation available. We believe it is less expensive for consumers to pay a fair price for quality representation that avoids costly complications.
As the old advertising line went, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later…”