The first question that I am often asked as a Brookfield bankruptcy attorney is what does it cost to file for bankruptcy?The cost to file for bankruptcy is going to vary from case to case, location to location throughout the United States. The one thing that will remain constant is the filing fee. At the time of this writing, the filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $306 and the filing fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $281. Everything else is going to change from attorney to attorney, case-by-case, location by location.
What I like to tell people is, then, let’s talk. Let me interview you; let me see what’s involved with your case. If your case is relatively simple, then you are not going to pay a really high fee. If your case is complex, you can expect to pay a higher fee. I will explain to you in detail about the bankruptcy process.
Most attorneys such as me will offer payment plans. A payment plan is a great way to hire an attorney because you can stop paying your creditors, you can notify those creditors that you have hired an attorney and those creditors then must call the attorney’s office for all communications. So really, the minute you come in and hire an attorney with a down payment, you are going to be afforded a significant protection. Now, that protection does not include representation in lawsuits that might occur prior to filing, however, it does put creditors on notice that you intend to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy, that you have actually hired a bankruptcy attorney and it might prevent those creditors from bringing future court actions.
A creditor does not want to pay money in terms of court costs in effort to pursue a debtor if they know that debtor has retained counsel and they are going to be eventually filing bankruptcy. In those circumstances, the creditor will simply wait a number of months before they pursue any kind of action and they will verify that that client has retained the bankruptcy lawyers’ law firm to perform the bankruptcy service.
Every Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney will vary in terms of how they work the pricing. Most attorneys would like to be paid in full before the case is filed. The reason for that is that the debt owed to the bankruptcy attorney would be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. The one exception to this rule is that the bankruptcy attorney and the client can enter into a post-filing bankruptcy retainer. The post-filing bankruptcy retainer is basically a written agreement which states that a certain amount of services are going to be provided after the case is filed and for those services, the debtor is going to pay a certain amount. So they basically bifurcate the case into pre-filing and post-filing attorney’s fees. The advantage for the debtor is that they get their case filed with less money down. The advantage for the attorney is that they might get the case where if they ask for the full amount down, they would not get the case. So it really is a business decision.