Chapter 1How to have a Stress-Free Bankruptcy
Chapter 2What is Bankruptcy
Chapter 4What is the procedure?
Chapter 6What can Bankruptcy do for you?
Chapter 8Is Bankruptcy Bad?
Chapter 9What does Bankruptcy cost?
Chapter 10Can I file without my spouse?
Chapter 12Do I lose anything?
Chapter 13Does Bankruptcy "Ruin my Credit"
Chapter 14Can I keep bills off my bankruptcy
Chapter 16What about the Credit Union?
Chapter 18What about my car?
Chapter 19What about my House?
Chapter 20When do creditors stop bothering me?
Chapter 22Joint Accounts with Parents
Chapter 23When do I stop paying creditors?
Chapter 24Gas, Electric & Phone Bills
Chapter 26What Bankruptcy won't solve
Chapter 27Chapter 13 Debt repyament Plans
Chapter 28Will I be able to get credit again?
Chapter 29Bill Consolidation Loans
Chapter 30Bill Consolidation
Chapter 31Wage Assignments, Deductions and Levies
Chapter 32Student Loans
Chapter 33Can I get rid of Taxes
Chapter 34NSF Checks, Traffic & Parking Tickets
Chapter 35Surrendering Real Estate & Time Shares
Chapter 36Business Bankruptcy
Chapter 37Professional Persons
Chapter 38Do you ever "Not Get" a Discharge?
A 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 $335 to file a Chapter 13, and pay the rest in with their Chapter 13 payment.
Every 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.
Same 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".
If 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"
You 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".)
Anyway, 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".
You say, "whaaat? What do you mean, if anything goes wrong?" He says, "don't worry, usually nothing usually 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 thousands.
So, 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.
For 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.
Usually, 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.
In 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.
Chapter 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 pay for.
Geraci 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.
Lawyers that claim to be "cheap" can often end up costing you more! Beware of "cheap fee quotes on the phone"
In 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.
At 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.
Sometimes, 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.
So, 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.
Always 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.