Last week I spoke with a potential client about filing bankruptcy. At the end of the conversation he asked me what my fees are for his type of case. I am far from the most expensive bankruptcy attorney in the north Dallas area. I keep my costs low so that I don’t have to charge exorbitant rates and as a result I tend to charge $200 to $400 less than the average Plano bankruptcy lawyer. However, when I told him what it would cost to file bankruptcy he was surprised and asked me how, based on his financial situation, that he could afford to hire a bankruptcy attorney.
I understand the frustration. He is having trouble paying his bills already. Saving the money to file bankruptcy can be difficult. However, once a person decides to file bankruptcy they can reduce their monthly expenditures by not paying the debts they are going to discharge in their bankruptcy. This includes credit cards, medical bills, and secured debts when the debtor intends to surrender the collateral. In the whole scheme of things the cost of filing bankruptcy is a very small fraction of the amount of debt discharged in most bankruptcy cases.
The cost of not hiring a qualified bankruptcy lawyer can be very high. Making a mistake preparing the petition, schedules, and statements can result in a case being dismissed. An error in selecting exemptions can result in a debtor losing their home, car, or other property. A mistake in applying deductions to a means test in a Chapter 13 case may mean that the debtor ends up paying much more than they should have to the Trustee, which can cost them thousands of dollars. An experienced bankruptcy attorney is invaluable and can save his client time and money, as well as making sure that the case is handled properly.