Bankruptcy comes at a time when money is tight so it helps to know how much it can cost to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, such as Attorney Jerry E. Smith.
Cost of Bankruptcy
Even if you aren’t going to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, there are still a number of fees associated with filing for bankruptcy. You must pay a filing fee, and this will vary depending on what type of bankruptcy you are filing. Aside from the filing fee, you will also be required to take a personal financial management course and get credit counselling, and these costs will vary depending on where you are filing.
You are able to file without the help of an attorney, but the success rate won’t be as good. Many people file without the help of an attorney because they feel like they won’t be able to afford one.
Hourly Fees Versus Flat Rates
Many bankruptcy attorneys will charge a flat fee for a bankruptcy case while others will charge an hourly fee. The kind of bankruptcy you file is going to have the biggest impact on how much you are paying for a lawyer.
Average Lawyer Fees for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
With Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you are surrendering all of your non-exempt property to the Bankruptcy Trustee. The trustee sells that property and uses the proceeds to pay creditors. After this, any unsecured debt is discharged. When you file this type of bankruptcy, you generally have to pay up front. The average cost for an attorney for Chapter 7 is $1,250. The complexity of the case and the quality of your attorney can affect fees. If the case is pretty simple then you will likely pay less than a more complex case, which could result in litigation. The cost can also vary by the level of experience. An experienced attorney is going to charge more than someone who just graduated from law school.
Your attorney is going to deal with all of the administrative issues in your case, including filing paperwork at the right time and place. He or she will also use federal and local bankruptcy exemptions to protect your property as much as possible. Your attorney will also answer motions and make sure you are relieved of as much debt as possible.
You are going to pay for lawyer fees for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in full before your attorney files the case. Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out more unsecured debt and this includes attorney fees. If you have a balance due when you file then it would get discharged.
Average Lawyer Fees for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you work with a Trustee that creates a payment plan for your debt. The plan lasts for a period of three to five years and at the end of your plan, the remaining debt is discharged. Unlike with Chapter 7, bankruptcy laws set “presumptively reasonable” fees for Chapter 13 cases. If your attorney charges a reasonable fee, then the court doesn’t look into the charges unless you request it. These reasonable fees are going to vary based on how complex your case is. The average is around $3,000.
For these cases, a lawyer will typically charge a fee up front. Some are only going to charge the filing fee, but some will need a bigger down payment. You then pay the rest through the Chapter 13 plan. You make regular payments to the Bankruptcy Trustee every month and the Trustee pays the right portion to your attorney. Just like with Chapter 7, your lawyer handles all of the administrative work to help you navigate the complex rules of payment plans and to help create a plan that satisfies the court and that you can handle. Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys also answer motions and make sure that you aren’t being taken advantage of by creditors.
Attorney Fees Are Public
Your attorney needs to disclose his or her fees and these are available to the public. You are able to research any bankruptcy law firm’s fees.
Other Possible Bankruptcy Fees
Attorneys will charge more for complicated cases. The average bankruptcy case is usually straightforward but not every case is going to be so easy. Bankruptcy is more than just filling out forms and there can be room for litigation, especially with Chapter 7 exemptions. Most firms will charge more money if court time is necessary for the case. For example, a Bankruptcy Trustee may object to the valuation of some property that you want exempt. The questions then have to be determined in front of a judge. A lawyer needs to appear in court and prepare a defense, which will cost you extra.
You do get what you pay for in a bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy is complex and different bankruptcy legislation can make bankruptcy even more complicated. Requirements for filing are confusing but a good bankruptcy lawyer knows the system and the courts and is able to communicate effectively. It may not be the best idea to use the cheapest bankruptcy attorney you can find, especially if your case could be more complicated.