Everyone who is contemplating bankruptcy wants to know the associated financial outlay. Since financial difficulties are a common prelude to filing for bankruptcy, knowing how much you will have to pay your attorney is crucial if you are contemplating a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition.
Although the specific fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney like Stephen Behrends is case-specific, having a general idea of what you might expect is beneficial. Fortunately, this article breaks down the potential overall bankruptcy costs for you, including filing fees, legal fees, and expenses when doing it yourself versus hiring an attorney.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Average Bankruptcy Attorney Charges
The exact cost of your bankruptcy attorney’s fee depends on how complicated your case is and how much these cases usually cost in your area. Legal representation for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically costs between USD$1,000 and USD$3,500.
Larger firms often charge less per case since they expect to handle more clients than smaller firms. A solo practitioner may charge more but may give you better one-on-one attention. Additionally, the fees of a less-seasoned attorney are likely to be lower, and if your Chapter 7 case is straightforward, you may not even need one.
Remember that bankruptcy law is unique and complex, so most attorneys specializing in something other than this area may not take your case.
Costs Of A Legal Representation In A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case
Fees for an attorney in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can be affected by a few factors. Remember that there are better options than the least expensive ones, so gauge your choices wisely. The following factors can help you decide which legal service has the best value for your money.
1. The Place Where You Reside
Some states have significantly higher bankruptcy attorney fees than others. North Dakota has the lowest bankruptcy fees compared to any state, while those in Maine, Nevada, and New Hampshire can charge as much as three times higher.
2. Difficulty Of The Case
The vast majority of clients think their case is straightforward. It’s how they typically begin discussions about filing for bankruptcy with potential creditors.
Some things that make the bankruptcy process more challenging are the paperwork you need for your business or side job, the justification of the property’s value, potential creditors’ objections, your marital status, and specific property losses. Bankruptcy attorneys look at these problems and decide whether they can be fixed. In most cases, the attorney needs to account for more time to prepare for the case and communicate with the Chapter 7 trustee.
To illustrate the variety of possible outcomes, consider these two scenarios.
- Simple Case. You have one source of income, five credit card balances, and very few assets beyond a car and some furniture. You are interested in learning the minimum debt level at which bankruptcy becomes an option.
- Difficult Case. You’re behind on your mortgage payments despite having a spouse who lives elsewhere, four children, three jobs, gambling profits, and a large emergency fund. You also have taxes you haven’t paid, closed bank accounts, and a social enterprise. You are still deciding whether or not to keep using credit cards in light of your plans to file for bankruptcy.
Remember that not all cases are the same. The more complex the scenario is, the more expensive the attorney’s fee will be.
3. Attorney’s Experience With Chapter 7 Bankruptcies
For this consideration, you shouldn’t use the attorney’s number of post-graduate years in practice as a metric. It would help if you instead considered the lawyer’s track record of representing clients in Chapter 7 bankruptcies.
A bankruptcy lawyer with three years of experience out of law school may outperform a litigation lawyer with twenty years of experience who has never dealt with bankruptcy. Rule-based areas of law, such as bankruptcy, are only sometimes applied practically and logically. The more cases an attorney has handled, the more chances the attorney has to encounter how the rules apply. In addition, most attorneys need more bankruptcy experience to accept bankruptcy cases due to the high stakes involved.
The Total Cost Of A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
Expect to spend between USD$350 and USD$450 if you want to represent yourself in court. While this may be the cheapest option, your case may inevitably be thrown out, leaving you to deal with your debtors independently. The average cost of a Chapter 7 case with an attorney is between USD$1,500 and USD$3,000.