How much are our Legal Fees?
If you are considering filing for Bankruptcy, obviously you are under financial stress, and are justifiably trying to keep your spending to as little as you can. When people first contact us who are contemplating filing for Bankruptcy, it is therefore not surprising that one of their first (and sometimes their only) question is how much are our legal fees.
With that important question in mind, there are a couple of things that we want to make clear. First, our legal fees are very reasonable, and are usually lower then those of other bankruptcy attorneys. Second, we only quote legal fees after we have had the opportunity to sit down with you and give you an initial, Free Consultation. That means that our policy is that we do not quote prices over the phone. Please understand, our motivation is not to be deliberately vague about our fees, in order to hit you with a large legal bill later on. We are not interested in playing games.
So what is the motivation behind our policy? It is this - our legal fees will vary depending upon how simple or how complicated your case may be, which in turn depends upon your specific circumstances. Obviously, the more complicated your case may be, the more we will charge, and the less complicated your case may be, the less we will charge. However, we need to first be able to sit down with you at an initial, Free Consultation in order to make that determination.
Our initial Free Consultation serves several purposes. First, it gives us the opportunity to elicit from you the relevant facts of your situation. This, in turn, allows us to then quote you fees and to give you legal advice as to what is the best course of action for you - whether that involves a Bankruptcy filing, or not, and if so, what type of a Bankruptcy filing. Second, it allows us to explain to you how Bankruptcy works, both generally, and how it would apply to your specific circumstances. We can then explain to you what would be the benefits, and the potential legal issues, if you were to file for Bankruptcy. Our initial Free Consultation is quite comprehensive, and we are very generous with our time - that consultation usually lasts an hour and a half, sometimes even longer.
Also please note that we offer fixed dollar fees (meaning that we don't charge by the hour), and we also offer payment plans.
With the above in mind, here is a non-exclusive list of factors that we consider in arriving at our legal fee:
1. The type of Bankruptcy that is appropriate for the client. Chapter 7 Bankruptcies involve lower legal fees then do Chapter 13 Bankruptcies, because Chapter 13 Bankruptcies are much more complicated, and require much more attorney time.
2. Whether the filing will be for an individual or a joint filing (for a husband and wife, or a same sex marriage). Joint filings involve higher legal fees.
3. The total number of creditors, and the total dollar amount of debt that a client may have. Cases involving larger amounts of debt and/or larger number of creditors can cause our legal fee to be higher.
4. Whether the client is running a business(es). Client business(es) can create complications, and therefore potentially higher legal fees.
5. The number of jobs that the client(s) have, and how frequently they are paid (i.e., weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, monthly). The more jobs involved, and the more frequently the client(s) are paid, the higher our legal fee may be. Due to Means Testing, we are required to enter all income and every deduction, from every pay check of the debtor and the debtor's spouse (whether they are filing jointly or not), for every job of the debtor and the spouse, for the six full months prior to the filing.
6. Whether the client is above or below the medium income level, for their household size, for Means Testing purposes. Clients who are above their medium income level will usually require higher legal fees.
7. Whether the client is involved in current lawsuit(s) and/or current foreclosure(s). Such litigation may cause higher legal fees.
8. Whether the client has assets above his or her exemption amounts, thereby potentially causing negotiations with the trustee for the buy-back of non-exempt assets, or perhaps contested turnover litigation.
9. Whether the client has engaged in any potentially fraudulent activity, such as transferring assets out of their name, or acquiring debt under false pretenses, or large, recent credit purchases.
10. Whether the client has tax debt, either Federal and/or state, that the client is attempting to have discharged in the Bankruptcy. If the client is attempting to discharge tax debt in the Bankruptcy, this will cause higher legal fees.
11. Whether the client wishes to enter into one or more Reaffirmation Agreements with their creditor(s). Reaffirmation Agreements will raise the legal fee, because such agreements often create additional Court hearings, which the attorney will attend on your behalf.
12. How cooperative the client appears to be. The client needs to provide us with a significant amount of documents and information so that we can properly represent the client in a Bankruptcy proceeding. If the client appears uncooperative, we may charge a higher fee.