While Attorney fees are a consideration when filing Bankruptcy, Do not let them be the determinative factor.
Usually when individuals or businesses are considering bankruptcy their personal finances are tight or they would not be considering filing bankruptcy. But in addition to Attorney fees you need to consider other variables such as:
- The experience of the Attorney
- How many bankruptcies has he filed?
- Does he have an adequate staff to assist him in preparation of your petition?
- Do you feel comfortable with your potential Attorney?
Bankruptcy is its own little niche in the legal profession; it has its own specific detailed requirements that must be met in order for the proceeding to be completed smoothly. Very specific documents have to be filed on a very specific and tight time frame. If your attorney is not used to the specific requirements your bankruptcy case might not go as smoothly as you want. So take the time to question your potential attorney on his or her experience, how many cases do they file a month? Do they file both chapter 7 and chapter 13s, and how many of each? Also trust your gut, if you are not comfortable with the consultation and you do not think the Attorney is knowledgeable enough do not retain him.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy fees usually are charged at a flat rate between $1,500 and $2,000 based upon the experience of your attorney and the complexity of your case. Additionally you can expect to be charged the court filing fee of $299 plus credit counseling fees and credit reporting fees.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy fees are different from district to district due to guidelines imposed by the Bankruptcy Court. Where I practice in the Central District we are limited to $4,000 for the attorney fees, plus the court filing fee of $274, credit counseling fees, and credit reporting fees. It is important to remember that in a chapter 13 bankruptcy your attorney will be representing you for between three and five years.
Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 Bankruptcies are usually charged at the Law Offices hourly rate. These are very complex matters and required an Attorney who specializes on these types of cases. You can expect to pay an initial retainer in the amount of $15,000 to $20,000 just to get your case started. Then based upon the complexity of your case your fees will be billed at the hourly rate of the Law Office.
Most Attorneys offer payment plans that can help ease the stress of coming up with the funds to retain an Attorney. But those that offer payment options usually require the total amount due to be paid in full before your case is filed. Make sure to talk to your prospective Attorney and read the contract so you completely understand what you are being charged.