If your bills are piling high, to the point where making any kind of down or minimum payment seems like it’s going to be a struggle, bankruptcy might be your best option. It is important to know that filing for bankruptcy in Florida is going to cost you more than just about every other state, so there is really no cheap bankruptcy filing. While the filing costs are fixed by the state, the fees charged by attorneys typically runs between $999 and $1499, but can go as high as $5000. The range in price varies on specifics such as: 1. How the attorney bills for his or her time 2. whether you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, chapter 11 bankruptcy filing or Chapter 13, 3. How long the bankruptcy process takes, 4. Whether there are any challenges being filed by trustees and/ or creditors, 5. Whether there are any related legal costs to your case, and 6. Whether there are any adversary proceeding attorney fees.
When interviewing attorneys for the position of being your bankruptcy attorney, it is important to know whether the attorney charges a flat fee or hourly. The hourly rate varies based on your location in the state and the level of experience the attorney has. For those that bill hourly, you will be asked to give a retainer fee, from which your initial consultation fees will be deducted. You need to ask what the hourly rate is and whether the attorney bills by the tenth of an hour (i.e., every six minutes) or by every quarter of an hour (i.e., every fifteen minutes). This will determine how much you pay for things such as phone calls with the attorney.
For attorneys who charge a flat fee, it is important to ask when the fee will be collected and what the fee covers, or rather, what it doesn’t cover. Will the flat fee cover everything, including court fees? Are the fees refundable if you choose not to proceed with this attorney and go with someone else? Are there payment plans available? And, always, whether the fee is flat or hourly, ask whether the rate is negotiable.
For other questions—namely, how long your particular case will take, one of the deciding factors is the type of bankruptcy being filed on your behalf and the complexity of the case. A chapter 7 case is typically the most straight forward. Once filed, assets are surrendered to eliminate most unsecured debts and even some secured debts and debt collectors are no longer allowed to call you. Chapter 11, on the other hand, is used for businesses, in which typically, a small business is given four months to restructure its debt by putting each of its creditors into its own class, with priority places on certain debts over others. The plan must be in the best interest of the creditors. Lastly, chapter 13, while also used by individuals, puts together a repayment plan in which the individual pays a court trustee over the course of three to five years in order to pay off the debt without liquidating assets. The complexity (how many factors are involved and whether there are any disputes in the case) of the case is the best indicator of the cost the attorney will charge to fight it.
One the direction of the case is established, and you know the type of bankruptcy being filed, it is also vital to ask about the other fees that will be associated with your bankruptcy case, such as court fees, trustee fees, consumer counseling fees, and tuition related to your personal financial management education. Clients are even billed for photocopying documents, additional staff who will be needed for the case, and attorneys travel expenses, as needed. You can never ask too many questions when considering which attorney to hire. A good attorney will have the staff, who have the patience, to answer all of your queries prior to asking you to sign a contract hiring them for their services.
For questions regarding the fees and timelines related to your bankruptcy case, or potential case, contact D’Souza and Strachan Law Group. Here, you will find an experienced group of attorneys who are well versed in bankruptcy cases and can handle your case easily and effectively. For a consultation, call us today. (Phone number)