The purpose of this article is to get everyone on the same page for bankruptcy pricing. We aim to provide the facts on how attorneys are pricing their services and what you really need to know about what you are paying for when you pay a law office or paralegal for bankruptcy services. For now, we will focus on Chapter 7 bankruptcy services. We want you to know how to answer all of the following questions: Are you getting ripped off? Are you using a discount service that will screw up your life? Are you getting the right service for you?
Anyone who has shopped around for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy service has probably seen prices from $99 “to start” all the way up to $3000. Why is there such a broad range and what is the difference between services? Teaser advertisements are common in advertising and marketing. Some firms will say they charge $100 or some smaller amount “to start”, meaning that later charges will add up to the real rate, but they won’t tell you what the real rate is until you come into the office for a meeting. Be careful not to get caught in these teaser rate deals and don’t be afraid to take a service agreement with you without signing it if you are not happy with the final pricing, but MAKE SURE TO KNOW WHAT THE BOTTOM LINE PRICE WILL BE. You need to know what you are paying for with no surprises down the line. Here’s how you can find out what you are getting for the price.
Ask questions about the service. Here are the key questions:
1. What does the service include?
Does it include attending a creditors meeting/bankruptcy trustee meeting with you? If you want an attorney to attend the court appearance with you, make sure you know if it is included in the price or not. Does it include the court filing fee or is the court filing fee separate? The current court filing fee in federal bankruptcy court is $306. Make sure you know if this fee is included in your charges or not.
2. Does the service include the cost of credit counseling certification or not? Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires credit counseling to be completed. Find out if the price includes credit counseling services or not. It is always better to separate the credit counseling cost so that you know exactly what you are paying for credit counseling.
3. Will there be any additional costs for having a large number of creditors?
4. Will there be any additional costs for communicating with the attorney?
5. Will there be any additional costs for filing any other motions within the bankruptcy if needed? Find out if the attorney thinks you may need some additional motions filed in court before you get filed. If you tell the attorney your whole situation, the attorney should know if you will need some extra work outside of a normal bankruptcy filing. You need to know what that extra work will cost if there is an additional fee.
Get your questions answered before you sign or pay anything. Start with the questions above and you will find more clarity in your agreement with the attorney and feel better about knowing what you are getting for the service. Make sure to get some references or look up the firm’s online reputation. Later this week, we will look into comparing pricing between a law office for bankruptcy and pricing from a paralegal document preparation service.
Bankruptcy Law Professionals is a Southern California based bankruptcy law firm with offices in Riverside and Orange County, California. We can be reached at 855 257-7671 for bankruptcy consultations by phone or in-person.