The main benefit of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it will eliminate all of your unsecured debt. It will get rid of vehicles and other assets that you no longer want to keep because you do not want to be stuck with a deficiency debt afterwards. It will improve the quality of your life because you will have a lot more disposable income every month. It will improve you emotionally, spiritually, physically; you will not be stressed out and upset and you will feel a thousand times better.
When it comes to Chapter 13, instead of having to pay twenty different creditors every month, you will write one check to the trustee every month and they will pay all of your creditors with that money. The Chapter 13 will stop a foreclosure, so you will not have to worry about losing your house tomorrow, and it will stop the repossession of your vehicle, so you don’t have to worry whether your car will be in the driveway when you have to go to work. Those are the true benefits that are most important.
How Much Does it Generally Cost to File for Bankruptcy?
For a Chapter 7, the filing fee is $335; Chapter 13 is $310. In terms of additional costs, you have to take the two credit counseling classes; the service I use is $25 for the first class and $18 for the second. I am very conservative, so I want to get a complete credit report and that is $33 per person. In terms of attorney’s fees, it is all over the board. The big firms that are trying to get as much money as possible out of you for a Chapter 7 will try to get $2,500; I generally am on the much lower end of it because I think attorneys are just charging too much; I am usually somewhere between $950 and $1,750 to do a Chapter 7, depending upon how complicated it is.
In most districts, Chapter 13 fees are set by the court. In San Diego, a consumer Chapter 13 is $3,600 and a business Chapter 13 is $4,000. With regard to the payment of the attorney fees, Chapter 7 fees have to be paid before you file because the trustee’s office frowns on the idea of your attorney being a creditor after you file. From the attorney’s point of view, it is a very dumb thing to do because if the attorney does not get all of their money up front, the debtor is under no obligation to pay them after the bankruptcy since all debts are discharged in bankruptcy. My standard operating procedure is that I want all of the money paid upfront in a Chapter 7 before we file.
In a Chapter 13 case, people give me as much of the attorney fee as they can. Often, people are in so much trouble that they can barely come up with the filing fee, so I get paid out of the money they pay to the court under their Chapter 13 plan. If your payment is $800 per month, then I file my claim to get paid out of that money and I generally get paid first, with all other creditors getting paid after that. One good thing about Chapter 13 is that if you do not have the money to pay your attorney up front, you can still get it filed and stop all the insanity.
What Sets You Apart from Other Bankruptcy Attorneys?
I am just more cognizant of what is going on with the consumer when they walk into my office from an emotional and physical standpoint and in terms of really evaluating them as an individual. With so many attorneys, it has just become this very sterile, impersonal process, in which they just want to get the case and to collect as much money as possible from people and send them on their way. Most people who practice bankruptcy law generally do not practice other kinds of law. I on the other hand practice in several areas of law, most of which the clients will use down the road because, when you get rid of all of your debt, you want to buy a house, and you need to get your estate planning done, or you need to get a business going, I practice in all of those areas, and my goal is for the clients to come back to me for that.
I am more interested in building a trusted advisor relationship with the client on a long-term basis, so I spend more time with people and get to know them; I understand their goals and objectives and where they see themselves in the future and I help them get there. That is really what sets me apart from other attorneys.
What is the Best Way to Set Up An Initial Consultation?
I have made it pretty easy for people to contact me. They can contact me through my website, or they can call my office or email me. If people have a smart phone and have a mobile app, they can contact me and I generally make myself available. I return calls over the weekend so if somebody leaves a message on Saturday afternoon, I will generally call them back Saturday night or Sunday if they want; I do my best to make myself available.
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