If you’re like most debtors, you’re carefully considering which attorney you want representing you, and price is probably a big factor. But when dealing with flat fee bankruptcy services offered by an attorney, be sure that you’re getting what you need for a proper filing. Below are a few things that should be included in your attorney’s flat fee.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you’re hiring an attorney to filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy for a flat fee, that fee should include:
- An initial consultation with the attorney, not a paralegal or assistant.
- An analysis of your financial situation and how bankruptcy can offer debt relief in your specific case.
- Preparation and filing of the bankruptcy petition.
- Attendance at the meeting of the creditors (341 Meeting).
- Some post-bankruptcy assistance such as stopping creditor collections actions after your bankruptcy has been discharged.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
If you’re working with a flat fee attorney for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, his/her fee should at the very least include preparation of your repayment plan and representation at the confirmation hearing. Ideally, your bankruptcy attorney should be willing to help you make changes to your plan and/or communicate with the trustee when necessary throughout your repayment period (three to five years), but this will probably cost you additional money.
The term flat fee can be misleading: attorneys often charge extra for such things as their travel cost or answering your emails and phone calls. If you face creditor challenges to your bankruptcy case or other complications, your attorney will probably charge you additional fees. Talk to your attorney to find out what these fees are in advance to avoid surprises in your legal bill.
While the cost of a bankruptcy attorney varies in each district and state, bankruptcy courts prohibit attorneys from charging unreasonable fees. If a bankruptcy trustee determines that your attorney charged you excessive fees, they may be forced to return that money to you.
Before engaging any bankruptcy attorney’s services, get a clear understanding of what they charge and what services they provide for a flat fee.