Affordable Bankruptcy Fees and Costs
What Does It Cost To File Bankruptcy?
This is, understandably, one of the most often asked questions by those needing to file bankruptcy. At Borders and Gerace we understand that you are currently having difficulty paying your debts and need experienced and affordable help from our bankruptcy attorneys. Giving out fee quotations before having a full understanding of a prospective client's situation is difficult, however like any personal service situation, everything is subject to negotiation, and at Borders and Gerace we endeavor to work with all clients so that they are comfortable with the payment amounts and how the representation is structured. Having said this, the following guidelines may be helpful.
Chapter 7 Cases. In a Chapter 7 case the fee for a client with primarily consumer debts and with no anticipated litigation can be expected to start at approximately $695 and go up from there based on the complexities of the bankruptcy case and current financial situation of the client. In addition to the fee, the court charges a filing fee of $299 for Chapter 7 cases. This does not go to the attorney, but instead is paid to the court. There are always exceptions. Once we have the opportunity to speak with you over the phone or at a free bankruptcy consultation we can provide you with an exact fee and provide payments terms that will not be overwhelming.
Chapter 13 Cases. Court costs for a Chapter 13 are $274. In Ohio, the bankruptcy courts have established the fees that an attorney can charge for a chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. The fee can be divided into up-front fees and fees deferred and included in the chapter 13 plan. This is where attorneys can be flexible and take less up-front fees to help you get your bankruptcy case filed. Usually, some portion of the fee is paid at the time of filing, together with the court costs. A workable amount of the fee paid at the time of filing often is $300 to $800 (in addition to the court costs); however, this is subject to negotiation between you and Borders Legal Services should you retained us.
How Do I Pay the Fees and Costs?
In a Chapter 7 case all fees and court costs must be paid prior to the time that the petition is filed with the court. Any other arrangement, such as an agreement to make payments after filing, must be discussed with a Borders and Gerace Attorney. If payment of these funds all at once presents a problem, one possibility is to make payments over time prior to filing. Once you have paid a retainer amount that we agree on, you may advise your creditors that you have retained an attorney. Our office will confirm this with your creditors, and attempt to slow down their collection attempts hopefully, long enough to enable you to gather all the necessary funds in order to file.
As indicated above, most of the fees in a Chapter 13 typically are paid as part of your plan payments. As you pay the trustee on a monthly basis, the trustee will pay the legal fees over a period of time.
Payment of the legal costs can be paid by cash, money order, check, or debit from your checking account.
What about using a credit card to pay the legal costs? We probably do not even need to mention that if you are filing a bankruptcy petition you should not use your credit card to pay for the cost of filing. However, if you have a relative or friend who is willing to help you with the expense by using his or her credit card to give you the necessary amount, this is fine. (Make sure that the transfer is a gift, not a loan. Otherwise, you will have to list this debt in your schedules.)
What are you getting for your money? Our fees are extremely competitive. Can you find lower fees elsewhere? Possibly. But, you must ask yourself what are you getting (losing) by saving money and how much money are you really saving? The truth is that all attorneys are not equally competent. There are good attorneys and hopelessly bad attorneys. We are not suggesting that just because an attorney charges lower fees that he or she is incompetent. However, the decision on which lawyer to retain should not be based solely on the fees charged. When selecting an attorney, you need to ask several important questions:
Am I comfortable with this attorney? Ask yourself,does the attorney sincerely care for me and my legal problem, or am I just another case?
At Borders and Gerace are goal is to provide outstanding customer service and experienced legal services. We provide an environment where you can feel comfortable discussing your personal information in a dignified manor. Our goal is to make the bankruptcy process as smooth as possible.
Does this attorney have the experience and expertise to handle the problems that may arise in my case? Ask the attorney how many bankruptcy cases he or she has handled.
Attorneys Borders and Gerace have handled over 3000 bankruptcy cases. They also have successfully litigated cases before the bankruptcy court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, the U.S. Court of Appeals, and had a case make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Is the attorney personally handling the main portions of my case, or instead, delegating the work to secretaries or a paralegal? Of course, there is nothing wrong with an attorney using support staff to assist in the preparation of your case. However, you should guard against the situation where most of the preparation with you is done by a paralegal or you are shuffled from one attorney to another.
At Borders Legal Services you will meet with the same attorney from the first free consultation through the discharge of your case.
Does the attorney provide a retainer agreement or services contract outlining specifically what is covered for your fees and outlines the responsibilities of both you and the attorney? The retainer agreement is not required, but should be given by any attorney. You should demand it so that there is no question about what you are paying for.