How Much Will I Pay for a Chapter 7?
How much will I have to pay an attorney for a Colorado chapter 7 bankruptcy?
The amounts that attorneys charge for bankruptcy in Colorado vary. Some attorneys charge too little. Usually, there's a reason for that. Either they don't do what needs to be done, or they're hurting for business and are willing to take cases without making a profit. That's not always bad; but one should be cautious, and don't be afraid to ask why they are charging so little. Then there are those who advertise a low fee, but after the initial consultation the client finds that the low fee does not include all the necessary services.
Some attorneys charge too much. There's no real limit on what an attorney can charge, other than what people are willing to pay. You should shop around. How does one know what to pay? Consider the following factors:
Experience: How much Colorado bankruptcy experience does the attorney have? It's a fair question to ask any attorney. How long have you been an attorney? How long have you been representing consumer debtors in bankruptcy? How many consumer debtors have you represented? The more bankruptcy experience the attorney has, the better for you. But that's just one factor. (Click here to see Mr. Hoskins' experience)
Complexity: How difficult is your case? Are you a small business person who owns a home, some rentals, and has engaged in numerous real estate transactions and other investments over the last few years? Or are you on a fixed income, living in an apartment, with a free and clear car? Will your case involve complex asset planning, high income and the potential for disposable income, removal of judgment liens from your home, reaffirmation of a car loan, redemption of your car, or other needed services? The simpler your situation, the less it should cost. The more complex it is, the higher the attorney fees. (Click here to see Mr. Hoskins' schedule of fees & costs)
Filing fee vs Attorney’s Fee: There are two costs in every case: the court's filing fee and the attorney’s fee. A chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee in Colorado is currently $306. A chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee is $281. Does the fee advertised or quoted by the attorney include the filing fee? You should ask. (Click here to see Mr. Hoskins' schedule of fees & costs)
What's Included? Generally, attorneys charge a flat fee for the basic services of a Colorado chapter 7 bankruptcy - those services should include:
- an initial consultation with an attorney to get a preliminary assessment of what bankruptcy will and will not do for you, and the associated cost;
- preparation of the basic bankruptcy documents (from information provided by you, in a format required by the attorney);
- another consultation with the attorney to review the bankruptcy documents, answer your questions, and advise you what to expect before signing;
- filing of the bankruptcy petition and associated schedules;
- representation by the attorney at the creditors' meeting; and
- reasonable access to the attorney: Can you, throughout the process, check in with the attorney to answer your questions?
What's Not Included? Many things can happen in bankruptcy that a flat fee will not cover. For example, the chapter 7 trustee might challenge your right to claim an exemption on the car driven by your teenage daughter. Or your car creditor might claim that you are behind in payments and ask permission from the bankruptcy court to repossess your car. Typically, services to protect you in these circumstances will not be included in the flat fee for a chapter 7 bankruptcy. An experienced, competent bankruptcy attorney should review your financial circumstances carefully and thoroughly with you, before filing your case, will know whether these types of issues will be raised, and will prepare you ahead of time. (Click here to see Mr. Hoskins' schedule of fees & costs)
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The statements of law made here are general statements of law, effective at the time published and subject to change from time to time. These statements are not intended, nor may they be construed, to be applicable to any particular set of factual circumstances nor to any particular person. I recommend that all readers seek the assistance and advice of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for guidance in their particular circumstances.
© Copyright 2013 David C. Hoskins, licensed Colorado lawyer