Filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision. And while people can do it without bankruptcy attorneys, doing it yourself is not always the best — or most affordable — option.
4 Reasons Why You Might Need a Bankruptcy Lawyer
You may be thinking about a DIY case (called a pro se filing). Before you make a final decision, consider these four reasons people work with bankruptcy attorneys:
- Bankruptcy fraud is a felony crime. Even if you make an honest mistake before or during bankruptcy, you can lose your case, have to pay a fine or face criminal charges. Take a look at all the forms that must be accurately completed and properly filed.
- If you’re pursuing chapter 7 (liquidation), bankruptcy attorneys can help you properly disclose and accurately value your assets. And since each state makes its own decisions about property that’s exempt from liquidation, working with a local lawyer can keep you from making costly mistakes.
- If you opt for chapter 13 (reorganization), your case will be more complicated, requiring a lot of your time to chase down documentation, file paperwork, etc. Bankruptcy attorneys handle that for you so you don’t have to miss work or experience the added stress. They also understand the state-level requirements so you don’t run afoul of the rules.
- There’s a long list of bankruptcy filing fees that can be confusing. Bankruptcy attorneys can help you avoid overpaying.
Considering these challenges of handling your own bankruptcy, paying a lawyer to take your case is a smart investment.
How Much Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Cost?
The cost of a chapter 7 or chapter 13 filing varies by case and location. While the filing fees are standard ($338 for chapter 7 and $313 for chapter 13), many other court fees may also apply to your case. Lawyers’ fees depend on local market rates and the complexity of your case. In general, however, here are approximate ranges for what bankruptcy attorneys typically charge:
- Chapter 7: $500-$3,500
- Chapter 13: $1,500-$6,000
If those numbers give you sticker shock, don’t give up just yet. Many attorneys offer flexible, affordable payment plans to make it easier to pay your bill. Additionally, many chapter 13 lawyers request only an initial down payment plus the filing fee. The balance of your bill is rolled into the monthly payments of your chapter 13 plan and taken out of the funds earmarked for your creditors.
If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you’re understandably concerned about cash. You’re wise to save money where you can, but make sure the decisions are in your best interest. Saving money on legal expenses related to your filing may end up costing you more in fees you didn’t know about, fines incurred for mistakes and time away from work and family. Bankruptcy attorneys do cost money. However, you’ll get a great return on that investment by avoiding costly errors and improving your peace of mind.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online bankruptcy case evaluation now!
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a content marketing agency based in North Carolina that provides services for international healthcare brands, tech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.