Many times I’ll answer the phone and once the caller has ascertained that I am a bankruptcy attorney, the first question they ask is “how much do you charge?” It’s understandable: someone calling about bankruptcy has money problems, and they don’t have a lot to spend. But bankruptcy is about more than how much it costs. Legal services in general and bankruptcy in particular are not “one size fits all” matters, and the work product a person gets from the attorney she hires varies. It’s a matter of you get what you pay for.
Many people think that filing bankruptcy is just a matter of filling out some forms, filing them with the court, and getting on with life. They meet with their attorney, she gets information from them, they come back in a few days and sign a bunch of papers and they’re done. What they don’t see is the behind the scenes work. The attorney must make hundreds of little and big decisions that affect the client’s financial future. These decisions range from counseling the client on what debts can and cannot be discharged to what property can be claimed as exempt and what might be lost, and even down to when is the best time to file. File at the wrong time of the year and the debtor can lose her tax refund. File on the wrong day of the week and the client can lose her next paycheck. How much attention the attorney gives a client’s bankruptcy will, in most cases, be reflected in the price the client pays. If a person goes to a bankruptcy mill, odds are that person won’t get a lot of personal attention.
Then there is the nature of a person’s case. Many people believe they have a simple case. The truth is, almost no case is simple. Simplicity isn’t determined by the number of creditors alone. In fact, the number of creditors is usually a poor indicator of whether a case is complex or not. Is the case above or below median? Is there a house? Is there equity in the house? What about cars? Is this a joint or individual case? Is there more than one source of income? Is some of the income exempt, such as social security? Is a business involved?
So what will a bankruptcy cost, in general? A person can find prices as low as $750 (excluding the filing fee, which is currently $338). From there fees can go up to $2,500 or more, depending on what’s involved. In general, the range for a joint or individual bankruptcy is probably between $1,000-$1,800.
I have reduced my fees substantially due to Covid and the fact that meetings with the trustee are held by telephone, which saves a trip to Salt Lake City or Ogden to attend the meeting. Other attorneys have done the same. Expect fees to increase as courts reopen and as bankruptcies increase.
If you need bankruptcy help, contact us.