The cost of filing for bankruptcy can vary for many reasons. Some lawyers charge more than others; some cases are more difficult than others; and some cases are easier than others. Asking in the initial telephone call how much the attorney charges for a case is like going to a used car lot that sells everything from Kias to Jaguars how much a car costs. And, calling around for the lowest price raises the question of whether one would do that to find a doctor to take out your appendix.
The best course is to make an appointment for a consultation, which is usually free, and explain your case to an attorney, judge for yourself whether you thing he is competent, and find out what the charge would be for your particular case.
Average costs in NYC area
In the New York City area, the average cost for an average case is between $1,000 and $2,000. To that one must add court costs for a Chapter 7 case of $306 and for a Chapter 13 case of $281. Also, the client will have to do two counseling sessions online which cost an average of $35-$50 each.
Things that complicate a case are having many creditors, owning property, being in the middle of a foreclosure, not being sure of who you owe money to, having only collection letters but not bills from the creditors, having many medical bills, and missing documents that we need. All of these things require more time and effort for your case, and can increase the fees. We do understand that for people in financial distress there is always going to be a certain amount of complication, and do not often charge more for complicated cases, but sometimes we have no choice because of the extra time and attention that is required by our office.
Our fees always include going to court with you for the hearing before the Trustee. One way we are able to keep our fees somewhat lower is that we file our cases in groups, and therefore can go to court once for several cases.
For Chapter 13 cases, there is an additional fee that is awarded to us by the Court and is paid to us over the life of your Chapter 13 Plan, out of your monthly payments. In most cases this means that your creditors get a bit less from your Plan, and that amount is paid to us.
There are usually no other fees that you would have to pay for the completion of your bankruptcy case. In some instances, if you have a house, you may have to have it appraised by a professional, and usually costs about $400. However, depending on the facts of your case, we often can avoid a formal appraisal and use New York City’s estimate of the value or use a web site like Zillow.
Finally, when someone has a really low income, such as being on social security, and there are no family members to help out, we may lower the fee for cases that are not too complicated.
Allan Bloomfield practices bankruptcy law in Forest Hills, Queens. Contact Allan today for a free consultation.