Attorney fees are one of the important considerations when filing bankruptcy because it has to be paid 100% and any type of expense during bankruptcy could be burdening. Establishing a relativeness between what you had expected from an attorney on a price bracket helps you determine and adjust your attorney needs. To learn more about bankruptcy, attorneys and law log on to Recovery Law Group.
How does the attorney fees vary based on location?
It is obvious to see a difference in pricing based on location. For instance, an attorney in California will be far more expensive than an attorney in Dallas. The cost of living and the overall expense of the city plays an important role in attorney pricing. Apart from this, there might be the availability of skilled attorneys in abundance in some areas like New York, New Jersey, for instance, however, there might be a lack of attorneys in a small town like Galveston. That too influences attorney pricing. The average range is between $1,200 to $2,500. If you are lucky you might find a decent attorney for $700 also if your case is pretty straightforward and isn’t a mind boggler. Cases that are tricky and require ways to protect your assets can increase attorney fees.
Bankruptcy court interference on attorney fees
There is a phrase called presumptively reasonable or no-look fee. Since the case is related to bankruptcy, this is a way how bankruptcy court makes sure the bankruptcy filers are not exploited with high attorney fees. It is usually not a cap or a threshold of fees, but the bankruptcy court will look into the fees charged by the attorney if it is beyond the presumptively reasonable fee to determine the reason for it. If the bankruptcy court is not satisfied with the reasoning, it can ask the attorney to refund a part of the fees to the bankruptcy trustee, who will use the same for settling the debts.
Such investigation or look in by the bankruptcy court is more often seen for filers filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Also, the bankruptcy court can look into the fees even if it is presumptively reasonable. If the case is tricky, the attorneys can charge higher than the presumptively reasonable but will need to convince the court with regards to the same. A set procedure based on the court has to be followed to justify the high fees.
Low fees advertisements, trap or deal?
A lot of advertisements on social media as well as outside through banners and hoardings are visible for low-cost attorneys. Are these traps or an unmissable deal? Under most circumstances, these advertisements are deceptive. The advertisement may state ‘starting from’ in small letters under the low-cost banner. These attorneys usually use an a-la-carte system of service, wherein they keep increasing the amount based on requirement and it ends up higher than a normal attorney would charge. Many attorneys are seen to follow this kind of fee system especially around Los Angeles, Dallas, etc.
On the other side, there are a few attorneys who provide services at the price promised in the advertisement. It is about collecting reviews, feedback, and testimony from different sources before opting for one. Advertisement solely should not be a decision influencer.
Attorney fees do not necessarily correlate to their qualifications
It is a basic tendency to interpret high fees with higher experience and qualifications. It might not be the case with respect to bankruptcy attorneys. Different attorneys follow different ways of pricing. While some charge a small fee or offer a free initial consultation. Considering these attorneys to get some legal advice as well analyze the prospects of the attorney for your case can be an ideal option.
The other option to get hold of an excellent attorney is through referral. Based on prior experiences if you seek any referral of an attorney from your friends, family members or relatives, it can just prove a lot easier. The approach to identifying a good doctor is what you need to identify a good doctor. While one is important for health, the other one is important for wealth.
Roles and responsibilities of an attorney
A bankruptcy trustee has to follow a procedure and put forward the best solution to offer a beneficial and legally correct position for the filer. The blueprint of the attorney process could be listed as follows-
- Analyze the right chapter to file – The attorney shall analyze which is the right chapter to file. He can ask the following questions to suggest the best option-
- Marital status and number of dependents
- Income and work location
- History of living, if you have relocated in the recent 2 years
- Have you filed your state and federal income taxes in the recent 4 years?
- Have you filed for bankruptcy in the last 8 years?
- The urgency of the bankruptcy – Sometimes, time is the most vital aspect of filing bankruptcy. If your basic needs are being impacted and you need to determine the best alternative and probably file for bankruptcy right away. Below are some questions attorney may use to make or suggest a wise option-
- Affected by a lawsuit?
- Are you facing any foreclosure, especially home mortgage foreclosure?
- Are you seeing wage garnishment?
- Has any lender or creditor withdrawn any money from your account?
- Concerned about potential vehicle possession by the lender or any other asset which is collateral?
- Any other pressing issue that needs to be addressed to the earliest?
- Property status – The attorney would not know if your property is at risk unless and until you disclose your fears and property details. Under Chapter 7, more often than not, most filers are able to secure most of their properties. However, if you are about to lose some of your assets, the attorney can evaluate the net benefit out of debt release and compare it with the value of property lost and then help you make a wiser decision. Some of the questions that an attorney should ask to better assist can be listed as follows-
- Have you been injured in an accident in the recent 2 years?
- The money in all of your bank accounts
- Any stocks held, profit sharing investments, and/or retirement balances
- Do you have any anticipated inheritance in the near future?
- The fair market value of personal property like jewelry, vehicles, real estate, sports equipment, collections, etc.
- Will bankruptcy set off the debts – This is an important question an attorney has to address especially when filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. There can be scenarios where you might not get any debt release because all the debts are non-releasable in nature. Still, filing bankruptcy can be a masterstroke under some circumstances. The attorney can also suggest you, alternatives to Chapter 7, if it isn’t proving to be that beneficial. For addressing this question, the attorney can puzzle you with the following questions-
- Do you have any unsecured debts like payday loans, credit card debts?
- Any tax payments which are due?
- Alimony or child support arrears?
- Any student loan liabilities?
- Mortgage and/or vehicle loan balances
After determining the best approach, the attorney shall analyze potential challenges in attaining the goal. The bankruptcy trustee might raise several objections and might also suspect possible fraud. The attorney has to proactively prepare himself or herself and his client for the prospective problems or challenges. From the process of initiating bankruptcy, paperwork, advocating the client in the bankruptcy court, offering legal/financial advice, etc., are some basic responsibilities of an attorney. To get the assistance of some of the best attorneys in your town just dial in +1 888-297-6203.