The cost is broken into four components – a filing fee, some mandatory class fees, two optional costs and the attorney fee.
1. The filing fee is currently $335.00 and some lawyers will have you pay this direct to the Court as a way to make the overall cost for their services sound lower. Our fee quote includes this cost.
2. There are two mandatory online (or via phone) classes that must be taken and the cost varies between $30 to $50 – again, some lawyers will have you pay this direct but don’t be fooled it is still a cost that must be paid. If you don’t take the first class – then you cannot file a bankruptcy case. If you don’t take the second class – then your debt will not be eliminated. Do you want your lawyer to take care of this or do it on your own? Our firm takes care of this process and our fee includes the cost.
3. Optional costs are just that – not required and most Law Firms don’t even mention these costs when quoting their fee. However, two costs in particular are extremely important. First, obtaining a credit report before filing bankruptcy is not required but a VERY GOOD IDEA. If you don’t list a creditor in your case, then the debt may not go away. Also, once your case is over you want the credit cleaned up and to ensure that you need a good baseline of the pre-bankruptcy debt. We always obtain a credit report before filing a client’s case. Second, if you own real property then it is important to verify what, if any, liens are against the property. It costs money to obtain a Lien Encumbrance Report for your home and is not required. The question is – do you want to KNOW the result or are you willing to take a risk of post-bankruptcy surprises?
4. As for the attorney fee, like everything, the devil is in the details which is why we provide a free consultation so we can learn about your problem, identify your goals, and develop a strategy to achieve those goals. These fees are frequently paid over time with an initial down payment to get started and the balance over a couple months. Factors that can affect the fee include: high income, substantial debt, secured property, valuable assets, businesses, tax liabilities, and/or litigation.
Why can’t the staff quote a fee? Although our staff are VERY experienced and have seen nearly as many fact patterns as the lawyers have, they are not lawyers and thus not allowed to quote a fee.
Aren’t most cases very similar so why can’t the staff give a range of fees? The bankruptcy process is very complicated and people who need bankruptcy relief don’t know where are the potential traps are located. Our lawyers have spent years helping people through bankruptcy and are trained to ask the right questions to flesh out potential problems. Even more important, once a potential trap is identified, our lawyers know how to avoid that trap and help clients successfully navigate the bankruptcy process. Once you file a bankruptcy case, it cannot be undone. Compare bankruptcy to jumping off a diving board – you way to make sure there is water in the pool and once you commit to the jump, you cannot go back!
With our firm you will receive:
1. A team approach to solve your problem. You are not hiring a single lawyer but are hiring a team of lawyers and staff who have a combined 50 years of experience doing bankruptcy work in Oregon. Lawyers in our firm have done approximately 10,000 bankruptcy cases so to paraphrase an insurance company – “we know a lot because we’ve seen a lot”
2. Your initial meeting will be with an attorney who expects to spend about an hour getting your questions answered. Bankruptcy can be a stressful process and people have varied goals besides just debt elimination. You want it done RIGHT THE FIRST TIME with no surprises. It is worth spending more time to speak with a lawyer and develop a strategy to solve your financial problem.
3. Your attorney meets with you to sign the bankruptcy papers. It is absolutely vital that the roughly 40 page bankruptcy document is accurate and presents the information in a way to facilitate your goals. Once you and the Paralegal have made an initial review of your paperwork, the attorney will spend as much time with you as needed to review the paperwork and make any necessary changes. Some firms charge lower fees because they rely on a staff person to review your petition with you.
4. One of the lawyers on your team will attend the bankruptcy hearing with you. Some law firms save money by sending coverage counsel to the hearing. Imagine the stress of filing for bankruptcy and when you go to the only hearing required of you….the lawyer assisting has no clue about your case! Not going to happen with your team at Michael D. O’Brien & Associates.
5. Your attorney will meet with you after the case is over to make sure your goals were met, to make sure the creditors are accurately reporting the bankruptcy on your credit report, and to discuss methods to help rebuild your credit and move on with your financial recovery. Ask the “low cost leader” if they provide such services – the answer will be negative.