How Much Does It Cost To File Bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy filing costs depends on a number of factors that may influence an attorney’s fee including:
- Whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy,
- The complexity of your case,
- The experience of the attorney, and
- Where you live.
The most useful way of determining whether an attorney’s fee is reasonable is to approach different attorneys in your area and find out how much they would charge for your case. Another option will be to check on your local bankruptcy court website for links to their fee guidelines and local rules with respect to fees as most courts have established presumptively reasonable fee amounts.
Are you filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
The fee an attorney will charge to file for bankruptcy largely depends on which chapter your case falls under.
Bankruptcy Filing Costs: Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
If you’re filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, many attorneys base their fee on the complexity of your case. For example if you are an unemployed debtor with a few or no assets your attorneys fees should be significantly lower than for a married couple with a substantial amount of income and assets. For a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys fees may range from $1,000-$2,500, but the fees ultimately depends on the nature of your case.
Bankruptcy Filing Costs: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?
Usually a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves more work and is more complex then a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Accordingly, attorneys fees are much higher for a Chapter 7 as opposed to a Chapter 13.
Depending on the nature and complexity of your case and the local guidelines in your jurisdiction, you can expect to pay between $2,500 to $4,500 in attorneys fees for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy.
However, one of the perks of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that a portion of the attorney fees may be included in the payment plan; but an attorney will generally require the balance of the fee to be paid upfront before the case is filed.
Guidelines of the Court that establish Presumptively Reasonable Fee Amounts
Judges are endowed with the power to review attorneys fees to ensure that it is reasonable. However, to review every single case is near impossible due to time constraints, thus the courts have developed guidelines that establish presumptively reasonable attorney fees.
Usually these guidelines are more common in Chapter 13 as opposed to Chapter 7. Except in cases where the circumstances of the case warrant review, generally the courts will not review fees which are below the courts guideline amount. The majority of attorneys will charge the courts guideline amount to file a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, however if your case is fairly simple, you may be able to negotiate a lower amount.
Approaching different attorneys for fee quotes
Apart from the complexity of your case, attorney fees also differ based on the area in which you live and the experience of the attorney.
When instructing an attorney ensure that you choose an attorney who has the requisite skill and expertise to handle your case. However, if your case is simple and does not require hours of work, it may not be in your best interest to pay more for an attorney just because he or she has many years of experience.
One way to determine whether an attorneys fee is reasonable is to approach various attorneys in your area for a quote as to how much they will charge based on the relevant facts of your case.