If I Am Broke How In the World Can I Pay You? Understanding Legal Fees in Bankruptcy

by John Skiba

There comes a point in every bankruptcy consultation that I do when we get to “The Question”. I know what they are thinking: “This all sounds great, I need to file bankruptcy, but what is this going to cost me?” I always try and be up front with the legal fees I charge. I am one of the few attorneys out there that actually list what I charge right there on my website. If you don’t believe me, Google “bankruptcy attorney” and check out their sites. See if any of them will tell you what they charge. My guess is you won’t find one – except mine.

What Does it Cost to File Bankruptcy?

So what do I charge? For a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy I charge $1,700. For a typical Chapter 13 bankruptcy I charge $4,000. You can plan on there being about $400 on top of that in the form of a filing fee charged by the court and a couple of credit counseling classes you have to take. I am not the most expensive (by far) and not the cheapest. I do offer personal professional legal help. You will work directly with me from day one until your case is discharged.

What is a typical case? I can say that nearly all of my cases get filed for the fees I am quoting here. If you come to me with a dozen rental properties you are trying to save you can plan on paying more. The case is much more complicated and there will be quite a bit more work.

Ways to Pay for Your Bankruptcy

So, back to the title of this article, if you are broke how are you going to pay me? It is a fair question. You need legal help, my wife and six kids have grown accustomed to eating three times a day. So, here are a few ways that we can work a solution to this problem.

1. Payment Plans. I offer payment plans. I do require a deposit to get the case started and to officially hire me as your attorney. You can then make payments on the remaining balance. I will work with you within your budget to come up with a payment plan that will work for your family. For some people it takes 2 weeks, others 4 months. Either way, we can get there.

One quick note, in chapter 7 bankruptcy case the legal fees must be paid in full prior to your case being filed with the bankruptcy court. The reason being, if you owe me money at the time of your bankruptcy filing, I am now not only your bankruptcy attorney, I am one of your creditors as well! It creates a conflict of interest so the fees need to be paid up front.

2. Use the Money You Are Saving. When we meet in a bankruptcy consultation I discuss you with you not only what your debts are, but what your goals are, what property you would like to protect, and what secured debts (i.e. car, house) you will continue to pay.

If you have decided to surrender your home or to let that car you are upside down in go back to the bank, there is usually no reason to continue to pay on those secured debts leading up to your bankruptcy filing. The funds you save there can be used to take care of the legal fees and court costs associated with filing bankruptcy.

3. Tax Refunds. During the spring of every year there is an uptick in bankruptcy filings. This is largely due to the fact that people have a lump sum of money from their tax refunds that they can use to cover their bankruptcy costs.

4. Retirement Funds. I generally don’t recommend that client’s use their retirement funds for their bankruptcy filing. You will generally take a tax hit for early withdrawal and further those are protected funds, even during your bankruptcy. However, in certain circumstances it is the only option. The choice often comes down to filing your case or risking foreclosure, wage garnishment, and a bankruptcy needs to be filed quickly. In certain cases it needs to be done.

5. Help From Family. It is not unusual to have help from a family member in getting your bankruptcy case filed. It is important to know that if a family member loans you the money that their debt is discharged in the bankruptcy as well. However if they gift you the money or if you voluntarily repay them down the road there is no problem with that.

One Place the Money Cannot Come From

There is one place where the money cannot come from. Credit cards. You cannot charge your legal fees on your credit card. It would be nice for all involved, but it is not going to fly.

My bankruptcy consultations are absolutely free. We can sit down, discuss your situation, and help you determine if bankruptcy is a good option for you. If it is, I will help you work out a plan on how the bankruptcy costs can be put together and help you start moving forward with your case.

I can be reached at (480) 420-4028 or via email at john@skibalaw.com.

LOADING PDF: If there are any problems, click here to download the file.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© John Skiba, Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

John Skiba

Arizona Consumer Law Group, PLC on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.