lot less than paying debt that you can’t pay. Anyone can come up with $900 or
$1000 to put down on a Chapter 7, and pay the rest over time. Anyone
can come up with $310 to file a Chapter 13, and pay the rest in with
their Chapter 13 payment.
lawyer charges exactly the same for Chapter 13, so don’t bother
shopping for fees for Chapter 13.
Why? In almost every
court, the court rules provide for a standard fee for all
services. So, it’s not the fee
that you use to pick out an attorney.
with Chapter 7. Some people
think everyone with a law license is the same. That’s why the jails are full. Lots of people who don’t know how
to pick a decent attorney.
People who file bankruptcy often have no confidence in
themselves or their family or their budgets, and panic! They think, “I have to pay a big
fee all at once and I have no money”.
you panic, you might call every lawyer who advertises bankruptcy and
say “How much is a bankruptcy?
If you actually get an answer to that, here is who you might
probably be are talking to:
A lawyer who got fired or could not
work with anyone so he paid $500 for a website design. He rents a desk in an office
center, and has no employees, works from his cell phone, returns his
calls you leave on voice mail while he is driving from traffic court
to a real estate closing to a bankruptcy court meeting, the only 3
cases he has this week. “I will do your case for $800 come on in” he
says. You say “don’t you want
to know anything about me or what is involved before you tell me $800?”
He says, “no, come on in, bring your money”
show up and sure enough, it’s either a rented desk in “Armstrong
Office Suites”, or it smells funny and not very professional. He is
late. So you wait, he shows up
and says “sorry, I was in Court” and brings you into his office. The
place is a mess. He actually
has a fax machine on his desk.
“Did you bring the $800?” he
says. “Don’t you want to know
anything about me or what is involved before you tell me $800?” you
say for the 2nd time. (Oh, you also had to wait a week
before he could “fit you in”.)
he then tells you that instead of $800, because you have a house and
car, he meant $800 to file, plus the $335 court cost, and there will
be additional costs if “anything goes wrong”.
say, “whaaat? What do you mean, if anything goes
wrong?” He says, “don’t worry,
usually nothing goes wrong”! So much for the “UNKNOWN ATTORNEY”. But, if he gets your $800, he at
least has his rent for the month.
I have found that there is very
little difference in attorney's fees. You can't save more than a
couple hundred dollars between lawyers' fees for the same type of
case. Some people like cheap doctors, and some people like cheap
food. Some people pick attorneys by a $100 difference in price, not
realizing that one deal your attorney makes can save or cost you
the cheapest lawyer in town is not necessarily the best. In other
words, go for experience, not price, because there is not much
difference in fees for consumer bankruptcies, but there is a big
difference in the quality of the advice and service.
instance, let's say that 5 years later, a bill collector calls and
says you left him off your petition, and he wants to be paid. Will
you be able to call your attorney who did the Chapter 7, for advice,
or will the telephone be disconnected? If it is Geraci Law, yes you
can. 7 am to 7 pm and
Saturdays until 1 PM. All your
records are electronic. No
voice mail either.
Chapter 7 fees can be paid in installments of as low as $100 a month.
Chapter 13 Plans including attorney fees are as low as $95 biweekly. If you can’t afford $100 or $200 a
month, you may have to ask friends or family to help you out.
my opinion, anyone “shopping for fees” for a bankruptcy attorney, is
not thinking clearly. If you can clear $10,000 in debt, tax free for
$1500, it is a bargain. 10
payments of $150 or even $200 is a bargain.
13 cases are even more of a bargain.
In almost every state, the attorney fee is exactly the same. Most Chapter 13 cases get filed “no
money down”, because it’s a repayment plan. Your attorney gets paid from your
Chapter 13 payment, which takes care of attorney fees and all
debt. Your Chapter 13 payment
could be as low as $95 bi-weekly, or more depending on what debt you
are paying back.
Geraci Law represents people on Social
Security with low income, and people making over $100,000 a year.
Anyone quoting the same fee for any case, on the phone, may be
engaging in "bait and switch" tactics. But, if you are really were just
looking for the cheapest lawyer in town, sadly for you, there are
some poor lawyers at the bottom of their career that will work for
free. You kind of get what you
Law is the largest filer of bankruptcies in Illinois Indiana and
Wisconsin, and you will generally find that the largest law firms
probably have the happiest clients, and about the same fees, when you
get done, as the all-by-myself attorneys.
that claim to be “cheap” can often end up costing you more! Beware of
“cheap fee quotes on the phone”
most Chapter 13 cases, you are saving a lot of money on interest, so
the cost is less than paying the creditors at their contract rate of
interest. However, Chapter 7 cases are usually cheaper than Chapter
13 cases in terms of total cost. Many “cheap” lawyers don’t know the
difference between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, so if you go there, you
won’t know either.
Geraci Law, we get a lot of people who have been elsewhere and are unhappy. Read our reviews. Some people focus
on the attorney's fee in choosing an attorney. My office gets calls from about a
hundred people a year who have had Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 cases
goofed up because they tried to save $100 on attorney fees.
in fact, regularly, we tell people NOT to file bankruptcy. That is why we have never “lost” a
house or had any real “trouble”. So, one cost of a bankruptcy might
be getting bad advice or bad representation by your attorney. The
attorney's fee doesn't matter, since you can't save much from one
attorney to another.
bankruptcy is pretty cheap. If you had $20,000 to pay your creditors,
you’d probably give it to them. If you could settle all your debt for
$5000, you would. So why try to beat up your lawyer before you have
all the facts in front of, by calling around to unknown lawyers to
get them to tell you something on the phone? No smart lawyer will give you any
real advice on the phone, much less quote you a firm fee for
something they know nothing about.
get a free in office consultation.
If you really want the cheapest lawyer in town, then go to the
one who tells you $500 on the phone, and pray that you will be happy!
You get what you pay for. At
Geraci Law, we work with almost everyone, but $500 was a fee in 1975,
not 40 years later in 2015.
Every year, one of the “cheap” bankruptcy lawyers gets
indicted or closes up, so watch out who you think is giving you a “cheap
price”. The so-called “largest
bankruptcy firm in the world, “Macey & Aleman Legal Helpers” closed
up suddenly in 2013 and did not refund fees to clients, who then
filed claims in its bankruptcy for the $1400 or whatever fee they
lost when the place shut its doors.