For those in significant debt, it can feel like there’s no way out. Serious debt can spiral out of control, leaving debtors struggling just to keep up with monthly bills and survive. For many debtors, filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can offer the relief that they need.
Filing for bankruptcy is not the right solution for every debtor, but for those who are considering it, the negative impact on their credit scores may well be worth it for the opportunity to start over, free of debt. Bankruptcy help in the form of legal advice and assistance can make a huge difference in how bankruptcy proceedings go, so it’s always a good idea to hire an attorney.
Is an Attorney Really Necessary?
There is no law that requires debtors to hire attorneys prior to filing for bankruptcy. However, most individuals don’t have the specialized knowledge necessary to navigate this often complicated process alone. An attorney can simplify the process and offer advice on how best to proceed, improving the chances of a favorable outcome for his or her client.
Finding the Right Attorney
It’s a good idea to meet with any attorney considering taking the case prior to making a final decision about how to hire. This gives clients the opportunity to ask any questions and find out how much the office will charge. Filing for bankruptcy can be a lengthy process, so it’s important for debtors to hire an attorney that they feel they can trust to have their best interests in mind throughout the process.
How Much Will it Cost?
The amount of money a lawyer or firm will ask for depends on a variety of factors. Average fees for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy fall between $1,000 and $2,500, but filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be more expensive. Sign a retainer agreement that clearly puts forth all services the attorney will provide and what fees he or she will charge prior to getting started.
Read the Retainer Carefully
The retainer agreement should contain information about how fees are scheduled to be paid and should include stipulations regarding what clients can reasonably expect from their attorneys. Should it turn out to be a bad fit, most clients want to know that they’ll be able to get some of their money back.