FEES & COSTS
What does it cost to file bankruptcy? If you are like me, that is probably the first or second question you want answered.? Hey, there is nothing wrong with that. Nobody wants to spend any more than necessary to get whatever it is they need. If you are filing bankruptcy, chances are you do not have money to waste. That said, if you are smart, you should not hire the cheapest attorney either. In the long run that could end up costing you more, not to mention your bankruptcy could end up being dismissed, denied, or even revoked. No, you should hire the least expensive "good" bankruptcy attorney and, well, at the risk of sounding immodest, I believe that to be me.
Chapter 7 Fees
$1,299.00 Standard Service: Understand that what is "standard" for us is much more than what is typical at most law offices. If you want to save a few dollars, we can provide what is "typical," but I highly recommend against it. Standard service for us includes: a one hour consultation and unlimited phone follow-up, in office preparation of all bankruptcy forms with me (attorney Rob Taylor) in what is usually a 2.5 to 4 hour session, consultation with me before your court appearance to go over all anticipated questions and to address any of your concerns, my personal appearance at your hearing, discussion, review, and execution (as appropriate) of any reaffirmation agreements, appearance at any continued court hearing (unless caused by your failure to appear or bring ID), and filing proof of completion of the required course in personal financial management. Once a case is closed, and regardless of how much paid, all clients are free to call me anytime (within reason) they have questions.
$999.00 Typical Service: "Typical" service most closely represents what most consumer bankruptcy attorneys offer and encompasses those services which would most likely be included if you called an attorney at random and asked, "what do you charge for a typical Chapter 7?" For us, "typical" service includes everything mentioned above, with the exception of "in office preparation" of your bankruptcy petition. Instead, we will send you home with a traditional questionnaire to complete. However, unlike most attorneys, once your questionnaire is returned, I will scrutinize it and personally prepare your bankruptcy petition. This is why we have so many fewer problems as compared to other offices, where oftentimes underpaid, under skilled data entry personnel are completing the work or it is being outsourced to a "petition preparation service". Believe it or not, attorneys can actually email a scanned copy of a bankruptcy questionnaire to a company in India and get a completed, ready to file petition back for as little as $65.00.
It is important to note that I personally attend all hearings. A great number of attorneys, and most of the big firms, use “appearance attorneys” nowadays. Appearance attorneys are independent attorneys who contract with other attorneys to meet their clients in court. These attorneys are typically paid $50.00 to $75.00 for sitting with you during your court examination. For the most part, these attorneys are very knowledgeable (some probably more than I). Unfortunately, they generally know little or nothing about your particular case. Consequently, if a problem arises at your hearing, about the only thing they can do is have your matter continued and report the problem to your actual attorney. When I am at your hearing, we go over everything beforehand, so you are going to feel more relaxed and confident about the court proceeding. If a problem or question does arise, I can address it because I will know your case inside and out.
Additional Fees: The above fees represent what we typically charge for a no-asset, non-contested, ordinary Chapter 7, filed by a single individual, wage earner, earning or receiving less than median income. Your case may cost more depending on a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, marital status, number of creditors, earnings over median income, self employment, garnishments, levies, liens, etc. If we need to charge you more, it is simply a reflection of the additional work required. I promise you that any increase in fee will be reasonable and fully discussed between us before you make any decision or commitment.
Discounts: We offer up to $100.00 discount for online reviews. Meaning you promise to give us an honest review on Google or Yelp after your case is over and we will give you a discount before your case is filed. We also offer discounts to the long term unemployed, individuals whose sole source of income is Social Security and those who refer/have referred friends or relatives.
Chapter 13 Fees
There are too many variables in a Chapter 13 for us to publish a reasonably definite estimate of what you can expect to pay. However, I will gladly give a more definitive estimate over the phone or during a free consultation. Suffice it to say for the moment that I generally charge between $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 for most Chapter 13 filings. Usually, half is paid upfront and the remainder taken in payments through the Chapter 13 plan.
In addition to attorney fees, there are always costs associated with filing bankruptcy. When comparing price quotes between attorneys, it is important to know if the quote you are receiving includes costs. While we quote attorney fees and costs separately, some less scrupulous offices quote just their attorney fee over the phone, then spring the costs on you when you come in. Be careful not to fall for this bait-and-switch.
Common to every case is the court's filing fee, currently $335.00 for a Chapter 7, and $281.00 for a Chapter 13. For most cases, we will run your credit report. Our vendor charges $33.00 for individuals and $53.00 for couples. If you have a limited number of creditors, we may allow you to bring in your own credit report (we can discuss this at your consultation).
With limited exception, every debtor is required to go through a credit counseling session prior to filing personal bankruptcy. We recommend www.summitfe.org. They charge $7.95 for an individual or married couple, and we have found them to be the least expensive company that provides excellent service. Additionally, each debtor will have to take a course in personal financial management before receiving a discharge. For that service we also recommend www.summitfe.org, who at $9.95, single or married, is the lowest cost provider as well.
The above simply represents costs that are common to all cases. In most cases, these will be the only costs incurred. However, depending on the complexity of your case, there could be substantial other costs.
Price: We will meet or beat any written (or otherwise verifiable) offer from any experienced local attorney or firm. For this purpose, “experienced” means at least 5 years of bankruptcy practice with a minimum of 100 cases filed and no history of discipline from the State Bar of California. Of course, the quote to be matched must be for the same level of service.
Discharge: In most Chapter 7 cases, we guarantee that the bankruptcy court will enter an order discharging your dischargeable debts or we will refund 100% of your attorney fees. There are some limitations which we will discuss during your consultation, but, for most part, all that is required is for you to honestly and accurately answer the questions on the bankruptcy petition and to cooperate with the Bankruptcy Court.