Bill Putnee from Lakeland, Florida asks, what are the attorney fees or costs of hiring a bankruptcy attorney. This is a common question asked by the persons contacting our office.
Generally, most honest bankruptcy attorneys do not prefer to quote a definite attorney fee for bankruptcy representation without first meeting the prospective client. The amount of work and effort that each bankruptcy filing requires can vary depending upon the particular facts or circumstances of each case.
Numerous factors determine whether an individual qualifies for either a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The debtor or debtors’ income, the form of income, and family size may determine whether the debtor or debtor may file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If the income of the debtor exceeds the median income, as determined by his or her family size, the debtor may not be eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, the debtor may be eligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The debtor’s income and expenses will often have a significant impact upon what Chapter 13 payment will be required for a feasible or confirmable plan.
However, there are exceptions to even the general determination that a debtor whose income exceeds the median income figure is disqualified from filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debtor, for example, may have exigent circumstances, such as unusually onerous medical expenses, which may allow him to pursue a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Most bankruptcy attorneys in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division (which includes Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota, Bradenton, and Polk Counties) however, generally charge between $800 to $2,000, to provide representation in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In addition, the filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, as of the time of this article is $335. The debtor must also obtain a credit counseling certificate in order to file bankruptcy, and the cost of such certificate ranges from a low of approximately $20 to a maximum cost of $100. The cost of the certificate depends upon what issuing organization the debtor uses to obtain the certificate.
If there is additional representation required apart from that required to prepare the bankruptcy petition, file such petition, and represent the debtor in the normal course of a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy attorney may charge additional attorney fees. An example is when a creditor files an adversary proceeding contesting the ability of a debtor to discharge a particular debt in his or her bankruptcy. A debtor who chooses the representation of a bankruptcy attorney in defending an adversary proceeding may be requested to pay an additional $2,000 to $5,000 in additional attorney fees, depending on the complexity of the litigation, the experience and expertise of the bankruptcy attorney, and frankly, what fees the particular bankruptcy attorney commands from his clients.
In the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, the bankruptcy court awards a maximum of $4,250 to the bankruptcy attorney for representation in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If the debtor enters the mortgage mediation program in an effort to obtain a mortgage modification on his or her homestead, the bankruptcy court may award an additional $1800. Other efforts by the bankruptcy attorney may entail additional attorney fees and costs. Often, a bankruptcy attorney will charge his or her client a certain sum of money before the filing of Chapter 13, and receive the balance of the attorney fees over a period not exceeding sixty months, through the Chapter 13 plan. For example, if the maximum fee awarded for representation of a debtor in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $4,250, the bankruptcy attorney may charge the client $1000 in attorney fees, file the bankruptcy, and hope to receive the balance of $3,250 through the Chapter 13 plan. Some bankruptcy attorneys charge the full $4,250 upfront and receive no monies through the Chapter 13 plan.
Filing bankruptcy today can become an expensive endeavor. Each debtor who is confronted with debt, and is considering what avenues to pursue in alleviating or eliminating his or her issues pertaining to such debt, must become their own advocate. Meaning, before you consult a bankruptcy attorney or other professional, learn everything reasonably possible about the nature of the debt, what possible remedies are available, and the possible pitfalls that may be encountered. When speaking with a bankruptcy attorney, with some background of information, one can hopefully make a better determination of whether the advice given by such attorney appears accurate and beneficial.
If you are encumbered by debt, and considering bankruptcy or some other option, please contact my office. I will happily meet with you personally. I do not charge any attorney fees for an initial consultation. I will patiently discuss the matters confronting you and suggest what alternatives are best suited to your particular situation. Sometimes, bankruptcy is the best option. Sometimes, other remedies are better than bankruptcy. Sometimes, doing nothing is better than filing bankruptcy. One thing I can guarantee is that I will give you the best solution available within my own knowledge, information, and expertise. That is my duty to you.