The rate for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can range greatly. Usually the cost is between $900-$2800. Just the filing fee to the court alone is $335. There are also usually costs associated with the pre-bankruptcy course required by the court, getting a credit report, postage to send notice to all your creditors, etc. Plus, of course, someone has to prepare your paper work, deal with the trustee, attend the 341 Meeting with you, handle your creditors. There is a lot of work involved in bankruptcy – some bankruptcy petitions are easily 50 pages or more.
The range is so wide because there is a lot of work that can be done in a bankruptcy, but everyone doesn’t need a lot of work. That is why it is important to get a rate based on your circumstances and the amount of work needed in your case. If you are low income with no car and no house – generally your bankruptcy will be easier and not cost as much. I tend to charge truly low income debtors $300-$600. If they qualify for a fee waiver from the court (which I usually fill out for free) the $300-$600 will be the total cost. Most of my clients pay $1350-$1800 – total – everything included.
If there is a car that has to be redeemed, a court case that must be stopped, a lien that must be avoid, wages being garnished, tax debt, etc – the cost might be higher. I, for one, only charge for the work I have to do. Call me for a free quote based on your circumstances 323.540.4633.
It is tempting to call around and just ask for rates. Especially when people start asking you personal questions – but how can someone really tell you how much it will cost if they don’t know what they will have to do. Don’t get caught up like many people. I hear stories of people that get a quote for $500 over the phone. After they sign & pay they are told that the is just the attorney fee, everything else is extra (e.g. – the court cost is $355, administrative costs are $150, the credit report is $50, a motion is $500, attending the 341 is $375, etc). If you call around – try to get the complete cost.
And remember this – how much is it worth to you to get rid of $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 worth of debt? 10% -sounds fair right. 10% of $50,000 is $5,000.
Chapter 13 bankruptcies are priced one of two ways. You should also understand two more things: 1) Chapter 13 bankruptcies typically last 3-5 years. The fee quoted by your lawyer is for the 3-5 years while your case is open, and 2) You don’t have to pay it all up front, you pay it off over the 3-5 years. Most of you will only have to pay what you would have had to pay the trustee anyway. The money is diverted from your unsecured creditors to pay your attorneys fees.
So, the two ways to pay. Some attorneys charge an hourly rate. They have to submit an application to the court for approval. Once the application is approved, the trustee will send the payment to the attorney. The other way is called a ‘no look fee.’ The court sets the rate an attorney can charge for a Chapter 13. Currently that rate is $5000 for individual debtors and $6000 if the debtor has a business (plus costs). There is a long list of what is included in that rate, decided by the court. The court also sets a flat rate fee for other work that might be necessary. You can see the rates for Los Angeles here in section 2.38 Attorney Fees.
Many attorneys go with the ‘no look’ fee to avoid the trouble of having to apply to the court and possibly have a hearing. The ‘no look fee’ is a lot cheaper than most attorneys would normally charge – but we take it, to avoid the hassle.
Which ever pricing scheme is used, most attorneys will want you to pay half – or at least a third of the fee up front. Most of the work happens on the front end, and it takes the trustee forever (sometimes more than year) to pay the rest of the fee. I usually ask for $1500-$2500, but I will work with your circumstances.