WHAT WILL IT COST?
HOW DO I CHOOSE AN ATTORNEY?
"How much will this cost?" is the most common question that we get. Regardless of whether you use an attorney, there is always the court filing fee that needs to be paid (as of June 1, 2014 - $335 for Chapter 7 and $310 for Chapter 13).
As for attorney fees, it is difficult to estimate until we have more information concerning your case. For example, is your case a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case? Is some strategic advice and work necessary prior to filing your case. How much information do you have about your own financial circumstances or will the attorney have to do a lot of research on your behalf? Because of this, any attorney who quotes you a fee over the telephone and before he knows ALL of the circumstances of your case is doing you a big disservice - and is likely hoping just to coax you into their office. There is an old adage "Just get them in the office." They know that once you've been in (due to a low-ball quote or bait and switch advertising), chance are that you'll not take the time an energy to go elsewhere!
Some attorneys advertise unreasonable low ($300 to $500)(or free???) services. Such advertising should be a sign to you that:
Finally, some attorneys will provide a lower fee if they just fill out the paperwork and do just the minimal work. Very few cases can get by with this and they realize that once you sign up for this service, they'll later be able to convince you to add the additional services and you'll end up paying more than if you simply hired a reasonable experienced attorney in the first place. Here are a couple recent horror stories:
Client filed with an attorney who advertised fees of $500. After visiting the attorney and seeing all of the "add ons" that were required by his case, he ended up paying $1,700. But the client had put in a lot of time and effort and changing attorneys that late in the game would be a hassle. The attorney didn't do any strategizing and filed the case when the attorney was ready ... not when it was best for the client. The client had $3,000 in his bank account when the case was filed. He was a upset to find out at the meeting of creditors that the Trustee wanted him to pay that $3,000 to the bankruptcy court. Had the attorney done some strategizing, the client would not have lost that money. Client came to see us later to see what could be done. Sadly, nothing. But he was very shocked to discover that we could have saved him the $3,000 AND that our fee was substantially less than he had paid. He had avoided coming to our office the first time because we didn't advertise a $500 fee!Client paid part of his fees to an attorney and then decided to do it himself. He got his Discharge and congratulated himself that he had saved the additional $500 owed. Later, when he tried to sell his house (he was to get $55,000 from the sale), he discovered that there were liens (totalling $47,000) recorded against his house that were not appropriately "avoided." He was not even aware of what "avoiding" a lien was. When he did finally discover it, it was too late. He saved $500 filing his own case, but lost $47,000 at the time he sold his house that could have been avoided! ...oops. If you'd like more detailed information on typical fees and things to watch look for and things to avoid in hiring an attorney, or if you want to decide if you can file the case by yourself (pro se), you may want to take a look at this website: http://www.bkclass.org.
Give us a call and come on in for a free consultation. The information itself is worth the time.
For a free initial consultation, call Henze & Associates, P.C. at