A: There are a few costs and fees associated with filing any type of bankruptcy. What follows is a list with an explanation. I will say that my fees for the various chapters are extremely competitive. Can you find lower fees elsewhere? Maybe. However, make sure you find out exactly what you are getting for your money.
Court Filing Fees
These are the fees charged by the Bankruptcy Court and go to the Bankruptcy Court for the cost of administering your case. These fees do not go to the attorney.
- Chapter 7: $335.00
- Chapter 13: $310.00
Credit Counseling Fee
A certificate of credit counseling is required to file a Ch. 7 or Ch. 13 Bankruptcy. There are many companies that provide this service and the fees range from around $8.00 on up. At last check, you can obtain the certificate from the site www.decalfnow.com for $25.00 (must use attorney code BTX95313 for that special rate). Once you take the course and receive the certificate please email it to us.
Credit Report Fee
A credit report is normally necessary so as to ensure that you have listed all of your creditors in your bankruptcy paperwork. You can pull all three bureaus at www.annualcreditreport.com for free if you haven’t pulled them in the last 12 months. DON’T USE THE “GET ALL THREE” OPTION; this will only give you a summary. You must get each individual report separately so that you receive all of the pertinent information from the reports.
Please double check your credit reports: If a debt is not listed, we’ll need the name of the creditor, address, account number, when the debt was incurred and the outstanding balance.
If you are unable to obtain your reports for free we can obtain all three for a charge of $38.00 for each person filing. Our service provides the additional benefit of seeing what your credit score will likely be 15 months after filing the bankruptcy.
Attorneys fees can vary widely, even within the same city. My advice is to call around and simply ask how much an attorney charges. I can usually give someone a quote over the phone with just a few simple questions. If an attorney is unable or unwilling to give you a quote over the phone then they might realize that their rates aren’t competitive and doesn’t want to lose potential clients by blowing them out with there prices over the phone. I am proud of my rates and my service and don’t mind sharing them with anyone that calls me (816)787-1979 or email us.
I require a non-refundable deposit of $300.00 at the time you bring me your documents to begin work on your case. The balance is due upon filing. Bankruptcy attorneys cannot collect any money from you after you file your case because that debt would be washed away like your other debts. For this reason, all the fees are required to be paid prior to filing your case. The only other option is for a credit-worthy friend or relative to guarantee the payback of the fees on your behalf.
What are you getting for your money?
There are a lot of bankruptcy attorneys out there…just like there are a lot of doctors. I wouldn’t make a decision as to which doctor was going to perform an important surgery on my wife based on how much the doctor is going to charge me. In fact, that would probably be one of the last considerations that I would have. The same should be true as to which bankruptcy attorney to choose. This is a big decision with potentially huge consequences as to your future financial well-being. I get a lot of calls from people who have filed bankruptcy with an incompetent attorney or paralegal and then want to hire me to fix the problems, if possible (and often it is not possible at that point).
When selecting an attorney, you need to ask several important questions:
- Am I comfortable with this attorney?
- Does this attorney have the experience and expertise to handle the problems that may arise in my case?
- Is the attorney handling the main portions of my case himself, or delegating the work to secretaries or paralegals?
- What am I getting for my fees?
If you run across an attorney who is willing to take your case much lower than the market rate you should be skeptical. Ask yourself why this person is willing to take less than other attorneys. Is it a competence issue? Are they running people through the process like livestock at a feedlot? Generally, in life, as well as here, you get what you pay for.
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 the 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 the sale of assets. In any event, there is usually a way to make it work.
I do understand that some people really cannot afford anything but the absolute minimum (whatever that might be) and for them, I suggest they do everything they can to ensure that the attorney they select is competent and pays attention to their case from start to finish. However, if you really are in this situation, bankruptcy may not be the optimal solution to your problems.
I pride myself on providing a very high quality of service for my clients which, I believe, is portrayed by some of their wonderful testimonials. I have also set up my practice to minimize expenses and pass those along to my clients in the form of the lowest possible attorney’s fees. I will work with you to arrive at a payment plan that fits with your personal situation if at all possible.
Our firm handles cases throughout Missouri. Please call my office today for a free bankruptcy consultation, either in my office or by telephone. Contact Us.