Bankruptcy clients have many of the same questions. This is the first installment of a series of blog entries discussing some of the more common ones.
It makes sense that this is the most common question we get from potential bankruptcy clients. If you're already having financial problems, we understand how hard it can be to find more money to get a fresh start.
We also understand the need to get a sense of the costs and fees before undertaking a bankruptcy. This is why we provide a firm, written, fee quotation at the conclusion of your initial consultation, which is of course free.
There are lawyers who advertise specific "flat fees," or that they will "beat anyone's price for bankruptcy." In our view this can create serious problems, especially in cases where there are unforeseen challenges or unique circumstances. Just like almost everything else in life, in bankruptcy you generally get what you pay for.
If you entrust your financial well being to a lawyer advertising cut-rate services who takes on your case without understanding your particular circumstances, you could be in for a challenging bankruptcy and some potentially dire consequences. And just as in most other professions, there are unscrupulous bankruptcy lawyers out there who take advantage of clients' desperation during this vulnerable time. In fact, there are bankruptcy attorneys currently advertising in Southern Ohio who have been disciplined by the Ohio Supreme Court - so watch out! At Minnillo & Jenkins, Co. LPA, we are proud of our attorneys for maintaining the highest standards.
With all of that said, and as long as it is clear that no fee estimate is binding until we have conducted an initial consultation and provided a written fee quotation, we can say that the fees for chapter seven bankruptcies generally begin at $700 plus the $306 filing fee (which is paid to the court) for cases in which there is no real estate or other complicating factor involved. This low fee is not available in many cases for a variety of reasons. Where real estate is involved or there are other complicating factors that mean there will be more attorney or paralegal time involved, the fee will be proportionately higher, and we will quote that fee in writing at the conclusion of the consultation. A chapter 7 fee and filing fee must always be paid in full prior to filing the case.
Chapter 13's (which involve making payments to your creditors based on what you can afford over 3-5 years) generally have a fee of $3,500 which is approved as a standardized fee in those cases. The minimum amount payable in advance of filing a chapter 13 is $881, which consists of $600 in attorney fees and $281 filing fee paid to the court. The balance of the chapter 13 fee is paid through the chapter 13 plan in monthly installments.
There are some additional costs that some attorneys may neglect to mention in promoting their services. For example, every individual filing bankruptcy must complete a pre-filing counseling session. This can be done on the phone or on line, and generally costs between $35 and $50 per person depending on which provider is utilized. In addition, in some cases it is necessary to have a property or item appraised. These fees vary widely depending on the location and nature of the property, but it is not unusual for these fees to be in the range of $150-250.
We hope you find the foregoing useful and that you choose to schedule a consultation today. We have four offices: DAYTON (at the 75 South / 725 Interchange);WEST CHESTER (on Route 747 near the Union Center exit on Route 75); and Cincinnati (HYDE PARK and EASTGATE). We would be glad to meet with you at a convenient time, including evenings and weekends.