What does it cost to file bankruptcy?


People are always asking us what it costs to file bankruptcy.  Attorneys are famous for not wanting to answer this question.  So were we...UNTIL NOW.  So, here you go.  Here, for you and all to see, is what we charge, why we charge what we charge, and what all you get in return.  Nothing is hidden.

DON'T LIVE IN NORTH CAROLINA: You can still use this list of "cost and value considerations" to help you find the best bankruptcy attorney, no matter where you live.

The Short Answer:

It depends on what you need.  We only charge you for the services you need.  The less you need, the less you get charged.  If filing bankruptcy is not what you need, you get charged nothing ($0) because the full, initial consultation and analysis is always FREE.   This service is alone worth hundreds of dollars and you get it all for FREE.

At the end of the FREE initial consultation and analysis: (1) You will know, right then and there, exactly what filing bankruptcy will, and will not, do for you (no guessing involved) and (2) If bankruptcy looks like a good fit for you, you will know exactly what we need to do, and, in turn, what exactly we will need to charge.

At this point, you know everything, but owe nothing.  You get to find out all this information, totally for free.  At this point, there is no obligation to move forward with a bankruptcy, and no cost if you don't. 

It's only when, and if, you hire us that you start to incur a cost.   If you hire us, here is the cost:   Our attorney fees range from $1,000 to $6,450, depending upon what you need (taking into account available "discounts").  In addition, there is a filing fee and court costs that range from $340 to $390, depending upon your situation.

Not to worry: If you hire us, we'll show you how to, in effect, get your creditors to pay for all of it.

The Long Answer
30 Cost and Benefit Considerations.

Introduction:

There is “cost” and there is “benefit”.  “Cost” is what we charge. You look at the “Benefits” to determine whether the value of the benefits you will receive is worth the “cost”.  If the "benefits" are worth the “cost”, you hire us.  If not, you don’t.

So, it only makes sense for us to show you not only the “cost” of filing bankruptcy with us, but also all the “benefits” you get for the “cost”.

The following information explains in detail all the elements of the "cost" you would be charged and the "benefits" you will receive if you hire the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt to file your bankruptcy case.


Our goals:

(1) To provide, up front, full "transparency" in terms of what we charge and why,

(2) To show you the tremendous benefits you will receive, and

(3) To show you how we get your creditors to, in effect, pay for the entire "cost".

Our products:
 

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy case filing,

  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy case filing,

  • Free advice on what to do if filing bankruptcy is not right for you.

 

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13: Similar But Different.

To begin, there are only 2 versions of bankruptcy that apply to most people: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. 

Just so you know, when we reference Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, this is a shorthand reference to the federal laws that govern these 2 versions of bankruptcy.  More specifically, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 as set forth in Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. These chapters provide the rules and regulations that govern the filing, handling and results to be achieved when you file bankruptcy under one chapter or the other.

Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are similar in certain fundamental ways. For example, they both kill off debt. Both put your creditors under control.  Both allow you to keep and protect most, if not all, of your money and property.

As such, there are times when it is appropriate to choose to file bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, depending upon your goals. 

But, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 are also vastly different in at least 21 different ways. Depending upon your particular situation, these differences will dictate which version is right for you. (Click here) for a list of the 21 reasons why you would want to file Chapter 13 and not Chapter 7.

This assumes that filing bankruptcy is right for you.  There are at least 20 reasons why filing bankruptcy might NOT be right for you. (Click here) for a list and discussion of these reasons.  Just so you know, if filing bankruptcy is not right for you, we will offer you 7 ideas on what else you can possibly do. 
 

30 Cost and Benefit Considerations:

With us, you also get ALL of the following:

(1) The biggest benefit of all:  The results achieved just by filing bankruptcy.

Here is why:

  • Bankruptcy kills off a ton of debt

By far, the biggest benefit of filing bankruptcy is that it kills off debt. That is what filing bankruptcy does best. It kills off credit card debt, medical bills, personal loans, co-sign obligations, finance company loans, repossession and foreclosure deficiencies, certain tax debts, certain divorce related debt, etc.

Disclaimer: Results from filing bankruptcy will vary depending upon your assets, debts, income, expenses and goals.

Try this, just to see how it feels?  Add up all your debts except your home mortgage and vehicle loans.  Then, imagine them GONE, fully finally and forever.  How would that feel?  What would that be worth to you?

In most cases, we kill off anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in debt, or more.  We even put it in writing on our "Benefits of Bankruptcy" form, given to you at the end of your FREE Initial Consultation. (Click here) to see a copy of this form.

For example, let's say you have $20,000 owing on credit cards.  In most cases, after you file bankruptcy, you would owe $0.  This saves you $20,000, plus all the interest you would have paid on that $20,000, had you not filed bankruptcy. Want to see what 10 of our past clients saved?  If so, (Click here)

Now, think of how much you can save.

What's that worth to you?

  • By filing, you get your life back!

Why is killing off debt important?  Sure, less debt is better than more debt, but the real importance lies in the fact that “less debt makes for a better life”.  Let’s face it. “Living in debt. That’s not living". Kill off enough debt and you can get your life back, get back to living a normal life, a life once again filled with joy and laughter and hope, a life that comes with less stress, less worry and less sleepless nights, and the joy of looking forward to the dawning of each brand new day.  That’s why we say: “We kill off debt, so you can live”. 

Think about how much better your life would be if you had a lot less debt?

What is that worth to you? 

  • You save a ton of money by filing bankruptcy.

And that doesn’t even take into account ALL the money… and ALL the interest on that money …you would end up paying on your debts if you never file bankruptcy.  Say,  for example, you have $20,000 in credit card and medical debt.  Now, add in all the interest you would pay if you only paid “minimum payments”.  In our experience, by the time you paid the debt off, you will have paid at least double what you owed.  In our example, at least $40,000 ($20,000 in debt + $20,000 in interest).  $40,000 you would never have to pay, just because you got off your couch and called a bankruptcy attorney. If you owe $40,000 in debt.  Double that.  And, so forth.  

How would you like to keep most of that money in your pocket?  Think of all the things you could buy, all the things you could do, if you didn't have to send that money to your creditors?

What would that be worth to you?

  • Bankruptcy puts all your creditors under control, and it does so IMMEDIATELY.

Life can be a living hell with creditors calling you at all hours of the day and on weekends, and writing you, and suing you, and threatening to take your car or truck, or to garnish your wages, or to foreclose on your home.   And things only gets worse as your credit score plummets and you can't even get a loan to hold you over.

And this doesn’t even take into account all the stress, worry and sleepless nights, or the shame and guilt, you, like most people, self-impose, because you can’t pay all your bills.

But, if you are here reading this, I am not telling you anything you don’t already know.

Well, part of the “value” you get by filing bankruptcy is that the minute you file, the Bankruptcy Court tells your creditors to leave you alone, or else. They have to immediately stop calling, writing, emailing, texting, suing, threatening, repossessing, foreclosing. Why? Because the moment you file bankruptcy, the Bankruptcy Court issues an “order” which requires ALL of your creditors to STOP, just STOP.  Nothing stops a creditor in its tracks faster than telling a creditor that you just filed "bankruptcy”.

What is that worth to you?

  • You get the peace of mind and satisfaction in knowing you finally “did something" about it.

It goes without saying that “Doing nothing, changes nothing”,  and “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

The secret is to “do something”.  For hundreds of thousands of people every year, that something” is bankruptcy.  In the case of too-many-bills, that something is what changes everything.

What is the peace of mind and satisfaction in knowing that you finally “did something” worth to you?

  • Bankruptcy always costs less than NOT filing bankruptcy.

The main reason to file bankruptcy is to get rid of debt. That is the benefit you get when you claim your rights under the Federal bankruptcy laws. One of the things we do in every Initial consultation is determine just how much debt you can get rid of.  If you can’t get rid of more debt (including the future interest you would be charged) than the the cost of filing, we would never recommend filing bankruptcy. In most cases, the amount of debt (plus future interest) you get rid of is multiples higher than the cost of filing, many times 5 or 10 or 20 or even 50 times higher than the cost of filing, .

 

(2) We show you why bankruptcy doesn't work the way you think.

We show you the real truth about bankruptcy, what it means, how it really works, and what all it can do for you.  I can't even describe how much better you will feel knowing how bankruptcy really works after we free you from the influence of commonly held misconceptions.  We call them the “16 Myths About Bankruptcy” or the "16 Secrets Your Creditors Don't Want You To Know".  This is one of the great values you get for FREE when you come see us.  To learn about all 16 myths: (Click here)

 

(3) Totally FREE CONSULTATION consultation, no matter how long it takes.

The initial consultation and analysis of your entire situation is FREE.  And the FREE consultation is never done until you get ALL the answers you need, no matter how long it takes.  No hidden costs: Some attorneys tack on an extra $150 for what we do for FREE. Just so you know, you can call to set up your free consultation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Just call +1-919-646-2654 .

 

(4) FREE and IMMEDIATE answers (during EXTENDED business hours).

For people who don't want to wait.  For people who want answers NOW, not LATER.  You can call and get connected immediately with a member of our fully-trained and experienced staff, at any time during these extended business hours. Just call +1-919-646-2654 .

Monday to Friday, from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm,
Saturday, from 9 am to 1 pm, or
Sunday afternoon, from 2 pm to 4 pm.

 

(5) NO NEED TO COME IN

With us, you can do it all right "over-the-phone" from the comfort of your own home.  Nowadays, most of our clients don't step foot in our office.  They can, if they want, but it's not required.  Thanks to COVID-19.  Thanks to COVID-19, with all the worries about catching the virus and social distancing, we had to adjust to a world gone "remote".  The good news is that we figured it out, and because we figured it out, you benefit.  If need be, we can handle everything over-the-phone and using email, text messaging and, where necessary, good old mail.  As a result, you can get faster answers.  You don't have to take off time from work to travel to our office.  You don't have to waste time in your car. And you don't have to spend your precious money on ever more expensive gas or diesel. 

 

(6) We handle bankruptcy filings under both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

Some attorneys only handle Chapter 7 cases.  If you go to an attorney who only handles Chapter 7 cases, and you really need to file under Chapter 13, you will have wasted your time.  You will have to start all over with another attorney.  And since that attorney doesn't handle Chapter 13, likely that attorney won't even have the knowledge or experience to properly and fairly compare the two chapters.  What good is that?   Not a problem with us.  We handle both Chapters, all day long, day in, day out, all year long. .

 

(7) Help no matter where you live in North Carolina.

We serve ALL 100 counties of North Carolina.

 

(8) For FREE, a list, in writing, of “exactly” what filing bankruptcy can do for you

No guesswork involved.  We have so much experience, we can tell you exactly what results you can achieve by filing experience, all based upon your particular situation. This all happens during your FREE consultation, at absolutely no cost to you.  If you are open and honest with us, and do your part, and nothing changes, we can tell you the exact result you will get.  We even put it in writing on the "Benefits of Bankruptcy" form we give you after your consultation is complete. To see a copy: (Click here)

 

(9) OUR PROMISE: Caring, kindness, love & respect.

Long ago…I came to realize that how we treat people is even more important than what we do for them. And, without doubt, getting people out of debt is what we do. But, treating all people with the caring, kindness, love and respect they deserve is who we are. However, please don’t take my word for it. Check out our Google reviews. There's a reason we have over 2,500 5-Star Google Reviews. (Click here to see our reviews)

 

(10) No obligation to hire us.

Not only do you get to find out the “exactly" what filing bankruptcy can do for you, for FREE, you get to do so under NO obligation to hire us or to move forward with a bankruptcy filing.

 

(11) If filing bankruptcy is NOT right for you, 7 ideas on what else you can do

There are at least 20 reasons why filing bankruptcy might not be right for you.  Find out what they are: (Click here)  If that's the case, what do you get?   Answer:  If filing bankruptcy is NOT right for you, we will still do our best to show you other options for dealing with your debt.  And, what do we get?  Hopefully, when you run into people who may need our services, you will think of us.   In addition, if filing bankruptcy is NOT right for you, (Click here) for a list of 7 things you can do instead of filing bankruptcy.

 

(12) We make filing bankruptcy “affordable”

Filing for "$0 Money Down" (Chapter 13 only).  If you qualify, and lots of people do, you can get your bankruptcy filed for "$0 Money Down".  No upfront fees. No upfront costs. "$0 Money Down". Ask the more than 13.340 families who have already filed with us for "$0 Money Down".  We invented this program. Think about it.  Why would you pay more if you can get filed for "$0 Money Down"? Find out more: (Click here)

 

(13)  We show you how, in effect, ALL of our clients get to file bankruptcy for FREE.

Believe it or not, it’s true.  You have to hear this.  The secret is to get your creditors to pay for the entire cost of your bankruptcy… lock, stock and barrel.   We figured it out.  People are always asking me this: "If people can't even pay all their bills, how do you get paid?"  The answer:  "We have them stop paying on the debts we can get rid of, and use that money to pay us."  Want to learn more?  We explain everything: (Click here)

 

(14) You get 11 "unbelievable" GUARANTEES.

This includes 5 “Money-Back” Guarantees.  When did you ever hear of an attorney who offers guarantees?  And…we offer 11 of them.  In fact, no other law firm in the United States offers these guarantees.

One of these guarantees is a “no-buyer’s-remorse”, “no-questions-asked”, 15 day, 100% Money-Back Guarantee.  Don't take my word for it.  We committed all 11 of our guarantees to writing, right here on our website.  For a complete list of our guarantees: (Click here)

 

(15) A “flat” fee** to take the guesswork out of what you will be charged

More than ninety-nine (99%) percent of the time, everything is set up based upon “flat” fees.  So much for this, and so much for that.  This is a good thing, as opposed to hiring a lawyer who charges by the hour, where you never know upfront how much the total bill is going to be.  In fact, I can't remember the last time we charged "by the hour" for a bankruptcy case.    The advantage of a flat fee is certainty.  With a flat fee, you know exactly how much you are going to be charged.  This is all the more important when you are already having financial difficulties.

**There is the rare, large, complicated, business-related case where we do charge on an "hourly" basis. In those rare situations, we  charge "hourly" because either: (1) We cannot initially get a handle on what all needs to be done, or (2) The estimated work far clearly exceeds the maximum that the Bankruptcy Court normally allows, in which case, the court requires detailed time records.

 

(16) A "flat" fee that only includes what you need done, NOT what you don't.

We only charge you for the services you need.  The less you need, the less you get charged. If you don't need something done, you don't get charged for it.

That said, you need to know this: Filing bankruptcy is not like buying a car.  When you buy a car, there is the car. Then, you decide what options you do or do not want.  Options like a bigger engine, leather seats, a sun roof, fancies hubcaps, etc.  It's not like that with filing bankruptcy.  The things we need to do in a bankruptcy case are NOT optional.  What we have do to in a bankruptcy case is determined by the terms and conditions set forth in the Federal Bankruptcy law.  How much we have to do to comply with those terms and conditions is determined by the facts of your particular situation.  For example, if you have a judgment against you, we have to do more than if you don't.  If you have income above certain levels, we have to do more, than if your income was lower.  The more property you have, the more we have to do.  If you have real estate, we have to do more than if you didn't have real property.  And the list goes on, as you will see in the following pages regarding the cost of Chapter 7 and the cost of Chapter 13.

 

(17) The cost of Chapter 7.

You get charged MORE, or LESS, depending upon what we have to do to properly represent you in a Chapter 7 case. 

Core services:  There are certain “core” services that we have to provide even in the simplest of cases.  In Chapter 7, this accounts for about $1,400 ( or $1,000 if you qualify for both "Discounts" referenced above) worth of the attorney fee we charge.  Whether we like it or not, under the law, in order to provide you with proper representation, there are certain things that have to be done,  Things such as the initial consultation, gathering, analysis and saving of information about assets, debts, income, expenses, goals and actions taken by and against the client, file setup, scanning, analysis and processing of documents, court meeting, etc., etc. 

The best way to illustrate this is to show you 2 of the checklists we have to complete in every case.  These are our "Chapter 7 Case Opening Checklist" and our "Chapter 7 Processing & Final Signing Checklist".  These will give you a feel for the extent of the “core services" that have to be provided in even the simplest of cases. To see these checklists: (Click here)

Extra services: Then, there are a vast array of extra services that may need to be provided depending upon the facts of your particular situation.  Based upon our experience in providing these services, we have been able to identify where we will and where we will NOT have to do extra work (above what is must be done as part of the "core services").  In turn, for each category of extra work identified, we know, from experience, how much extra work will, on average, need to be done.   To stick with our "flat fee" model, we then assigned each category of the extra work a “flat" fee dollar amount.  If "no" extra services work is needed, no extra money is charged.   Like I said: If you don’t need it, you don't get charged for it.

For the record: “Extra” does not mean “optional”. If your particular situation calls for one or more extra services, we are, as attorneys, obligated under the law to provide them.

Here is a list of the "extra services" we charge for:

  • The higher your net monthly household income, the more we charge, $100 to $900 extra, depending on the level of income.

Reason: This mostly has to do with the amount of work we have to do to deal with, satisfy and document the results we get when we apply what is called the "Means Test".  This is a test to determine if you are really eligible to file under Chapter 7, and if not, how much extra you would have to pay if we had filed you in Chapter 13.  Without getting into the weeds here, suffice it to say that the higher your income, the more work we have to do, the more documentation we need to prepare, the more documentary evidence we need to gather, and the more scrutiny we will have encounter in dealing with court-related officials whose job it is to review that data and, where need be, raise issues.

  • The "non-filing" spouse or "live-in" boyfriend or girlfriend situation:  $300 extra

Reason: Unfortunately, with respect to the "Means Test" and your budget, we need to gather information about the income and expenses of these people.  In the best of circumstances, this is extra work.  And where there is no cooperation on the part of one of these people, we have extra work to figure out how to present your case successfully without their help or information.  Work not necessary if there is no such person.

  • Extremely difficult "non-filing" spouse or "live in" boyfriend or girlfriend: $100 to $500 extra

Reason: We don't run into this a lot, but it happens, and, assuming you want to file and we have the time to deal with the drama and aggravation, we will charge an extra $100 to $500.  It just depends.

  • Joint filing by "separated" spouses: $200 extra

Reason:  Extra work is required with respect to both the "Means Test" and the budget.  "Separated" spouse, by reason of the separate, live in separate households.  As such, each has a separate set of household expense to account for.  There is also the issue of who pays what on the former marital debts and how income is allocated.  This all effects how things need to be presented on the "Means Test" and the filed Schedule of Income and Expenses.

  • You own real estate: $100 extra

Reason:  If you own real estate, it is generally the most valuable asset you own.  Since it is your biggest asset, it will many times draw the closest scrutiny.  It must be properly accounted for.  It must be properly valued and measured against available "exemptions".  In addition, we have to pull, examine and have ready to supply all documents of record (tax records, deeds, mortgages).  We must verify ownership and check the type of ownership where there are 2 or more owners.

  • Motions to Avoid Judgments Liens of record: $500 per motion

Reason: First, we have to determine what judgments you have against you.  Then, if you own a home or other real property, we have to determine if the judgment is, or is not, a lien against your real property.  If so, we have to figure out everything about the judgement and how much is owed.  If the judgment is a lien against your property, we then have to figure out what part, if not all, of the judgment can be avoided (read "gotten rid of") by filing a motion with the Bankruptcy Court, a motion that must be quickly filed since a Chapter 7 case only last about 3 or 4 months.  We then have to carefully prepare and file the motion and the proposed order.  We have to be super careful in the motion because it may well be months or even years before the order upon the motion gets carefully examined for correctness as where you later want to buy, sell or refinance real estate.  We have to do all of this work with respect to each judgment.  We only charge for extra services when we have to prepare and file a motion.

  • Work to determine the "dischargeability" of back taxes owed to the IRS and/or State government: $200 extra

Reason:  We get rid of a lot of past due "income" taxes for our clients.  The taxes just have to meet certain legal tests.  If it looks like some or all of it is dischargeable (meaning you can get rid of them by filing bankruptcy), we dig deeper. To start, we have to determine what and how much you owe, and to which agency you owe them, the IRS, the State or both.  We then need to determine whether and when you filed your tax returns. We then have to get reports to see what the taxing agency claims and why.  In the process, if it's the IRS, we have to order and then analyze a report to see if, after we apply legal tests, we think those, or part of those, taxes are dishargeable in your bankruptcy case.  If it's the State you owe, we try to get someone on the phone, and barring that, we piece together whatever data is available to make a determination. The last thing we want is for you to continue to think you owe, and have to pay, taxes that filing bankruptcy can get rid of.

  • Number of debts you have: $0 to $400 extra, depending upon how many debts you have.

Reason:   The more debts you have, the more bills and other documents we need to get from you to examine.  This includes bills, contracts, your credit report, letters from collection agencies and attorneys, and possibly even lawsuit papers.  Then, we must input the information about each debt into the schedules needed to file your case, including information about not only the creditors, but also collection agencies and attorneys involved.  We don't charge extra for the first 20 debts. We charge $100 per each group 1 to 20 creditors above that, as follows:

  • 1 to 20 debts: $0
  • 21 o 40 debts: $100
  • 41 to 60 debts: $100
  • 61 to 80 debts: $100
  • More than 80 debts: $100

As you can see, the most we charge, as where you have more than 80 debts, is an extra $400.

  • Based on the total of dischageable debt (not including medical debt): $0 to $300 extra.

Reason: It goes without saying that the more debt you are making a creditor "write off" by filing bankruptcy, the more likely we will hear from and have to deal with one or more creditors.  This extra fee is meant to fairly compensate us for this extra work.

  • Reaffirmations Agreements:  $150 per Agreement (Eastern District) / $225 per Agreement (Middle District)

Reason: If you owe money on a vehicle you want to keep, you generally have no choice.  You have to sign a Reaffimation Agreement.  A "Reaffirmation Agreement" is your agreement to give up your right to "discharge" your obligation to pay for the money you owe on the vehicle. To this end, we first tell the court and the creditor it is your intention to keep the vehicle. The creditor then prepares and sends us the proposed Reaffimation Agreement.  If the agreement reads ok, we then get you to sign it, after which we send it back to the creditor and file a copy with the court.  In many cases, the court requires that either you or your attorney, or both of us show up at court.  The reason is that the court wants to make sure that signing the agreement is in your best interest. 

For the record:  The fee quoted above is set by each respective Bankruptcy Court.

  • Based on the number of financial accounts you have: $0 to $200

Reason: We have to account for every financial account you have.  Examples are checking / savings / money market / CashApp / Venmo / Paypal / Apple / Google Pay / stock / bond / etc.  It used to be that, most of the time, you only had a checking account and maybe a savings account, and then only with one banks. Times they are changing, and unfortunately for us, and you, we have to account for all such accounts.  And this means that we have to get from you monthly statements.  We have to list these accounts in your case.  And, we may have to provide copies to the Trustee (court-related official) assigned to oversee your case.  All this makes for extra work.

We don't charge extra for the first 3 accounts.  If you have 4 to 6 accounts, we charge an extra $100. If you have more than 6 accounts, we charge an extra $200.

  • Pre-petition exemption planning: $0 t0 $700, depending upon what needs to be done.

Reason: In most cases, there is no extra charge.  In most cases, your State "exemptions" are more than sufficient to cover and protect everything you own.  But, not always.  If it looks like you have more value in assets than we can cover with available "exemptions", we dig deeper, looking much more closely to make sure we are not overvaluing assets.  If after looking closely at values, it still looks like value that exceeds available exemptions, we discuss strategies that may get you back within the limits of available exemptions.  Barring that, we advise you what will likely happens or at least apprise you of the risks.  Technically, in Chapter 7, the Trustee assigned to your case, can, if he thinks it worthwhile, take and sell any assets that have value higher than can be covered by exemptions.  This may or may not bother you at all.  For example, it might make perfect sense to file bankruptcy and sacrifice $10,000 in assets to get rid of $100,000 worth of debt.  We would also talk to you about the possibility of keeping the assets not protected by exemptions by filing Chapter 13 instead of Chapter 7.  In Chapter 13, you can keep those non-exempt assets as long as you agree to raise your Chapter 13 plan sufficient to pay an equivalent amount.  Depending upon the seriousness of the problem, it could involve days, weeks or even months of planning, and we charge accordingly.

  • Business cases: $0 to who knows what extra.

Reason: When there is a business involved, one size does not fit all, and there is no way we can give any guidance here on how much extra we will charge without a full analysis of your situation to figure out what is involved and would need to be done.

The best way to calculate your “cost”:

There is no way to know for sure how much to charge you or how much your cost will be without a thorough understanding of your situation and what needs to be done in your particular case, and also what does NOT need to be done. The beauty is that you find out all of this for FREE.  That's what the FREE initial consult is for.  In this consultation, you find out: (1) The exact results you can achieve and (2) The cost.

That said, in furtherance of our goal to provide full transparency,    (Click here)to see the schedule we use to price out a Chapter 7 case.

 

(18) Access to three (3) Chapter 7 Payment "Discounts". 

As you may know, an attorney who does not get his or her attorney fee "paid-in-full" before filing your Chapter 7 case, loses the right to get paid-in-full.  Under the law, any amount left unpaid is "forfeited" and can never be collected.  Never!  The reason is simple.  The minute you file bankruptcy, it becomes illegal for your creditors to collect money from you.  And your unpaid attorney is, under the law, just another creditor.   Therefore, if your attorney wants to get paid in a Chapter 7 case, your attorney has no choice but to make sure he or she gets paid-in-full before filing your bankruptcy case. 

The problem is that many clients have a problem coming up with the full attorney fee, not to mention the filing fee and other court costs,  in a timely manner.  And, to makes things worse, the longer it takes you, the client, to come up with the full attorney fee (and costs), the longer it takes to get your case filed, and the longer it takes you to get the full benefit and protection that only comes with the actual filing of your bankruptcy case.

To help you come up with the money, we tell you which creditors your bankruptcy case will, so to speak, "kill off".  These are the creditors you can stop paying.  Think about it.  It makes no sense to keep paying on those debts that your bankruptcy case will kill off.  We then use the money you save from not paying those creditors to help pay your attorney fees.

But, we don't stop there. In Chapter 7, we also give you a way to lower your attorney fee.

We do this by offering you 2 "discounts":

  • Discount 1: Our $200 “Quick Filing” discount. It works like this:  If, within 60 days after you hire us, you: (1) Get into us all the information and documentation we need to file your case and (2) Get us paid-in-full, we knock $200 off your attorney fee

  • Discount 2: Our $200 "paid-in-full IMMEDIATELY" discount.  It works like this: If you get us "paid in full" within 48 hours after you hire us, we knock off an additional $200.

  • Discount 1 + Discount 2Qualify for both discounts and you save a total of $400.

  • Discount 3A $100 "active" Military Discount

Just so you know: In most of our Chapter 13 case, there is very little, if any, money due up-front before filing. The reason, unlike Chapter 7, the law does not require that we collect all our money "up front".   In Chapter 13, under the law, we can get paid "after you file" out of your Chapter 13 plan payments.  (More on what a "Chapter 13 plan" is when you come see us.)  Assuming, for example, that you qualify to get filed under our exclusive "0 Money Down" program: (1) there is NO money to collect "up front", and therefore, no reason to hold up your filing to wait on payments, and (2) the quicker you get into us the information and documentation we need to get your case filed, the quicker we can get your case filed, and the quicker you get the full benefit and protection in having filed.   Not having to come up with money "upfront" is one of the many reasons clients opt for Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7.

 

(19) A $100 "Active" Military Service Discount.

We file a lot of people who are currently in "active" military service.  We offer them a $100 discount.  This $100 discount is applied to lower their total attorney fee.

 

(20) Chapter 13 attorney fees are higher than Chapter 7 fees for a reason. 

But, that's true across the board, no matter where you file bankruptcy, no matter what State you live in.  The reason is simple.  When you file a Chapter 7 case, it can be done and over in as little as 4 months. A Chapter 13 case takes 3 to 5 years to complete.  As a result, your attorney, whoever he or she is, is required to represent you for the full 3 to 5 years.  And 3 to 5 years of legal representation simply requires a lot more work, time and energy than required in the 3 or 4 months for a Chapter 7 case. 

Hearing this, you would naturally tend to want to save money by choosing Chapter 7. And this makes sense unless you run afoul of 1 or more of the 21 reasons why it is better or more desirable to file Chapter 13 as opposed to Chapter 7.  For example, in Chapter 7, we are required, under the law, to collect our entire attorney fee upfront before we file your case.  Where you can’t afford to do this or don’t want to wait until you can (and not get help and protection in the meantime), Chapter 13 is a great alternative, especially since, with us, most clients qualify to get filed for "$0 Money Down".  (Link to all 21 reasons to file Chapter 13 and not Chapter 7)

 

(21) The cost of Chapter 13.

To begin with, representation in a Chapter 13 case is multiples more work than representation in a Chapter 7 case.

In part, this is because, in addition to providing all the same “core services” provided in Chapter 7, we also have to formulate, file and present to the court a "confirmable" Chapter 13 plan.  “Confirmable” means fully compliant with all of the rules and requirements set forth in the bankruptcy law.  This alone adds an average of 10 to 15 hours of extra work to each case. To give you some idea of the complexity involved, (Click here) to see a copy of of chapter 13 Plan Worksheet.

However, in large part, Chapter 13 is multiples more work than Chapter 7 because, unlike a Chapter 7 case which lasts 3 or 4 months, a Chapter 13 case requires that we represent you 3 to 5 years. Under the law, Chapter 13 plans range in length from 3 to 5 years, depending upon your facts and circumstances.

That said, we still provide services on a "flat fee" basis.  And we set the amount of the "flat fee" taking 2 things into account:  (1) Our experience in having handled tens of thousands of Chapter 13 cases, and (2) The maximum fee we are allowed to charge, as set by the Bankruptcy Court.

Just so you know, the maximum attorney fee is set by the Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern and Middle Districts of North Carolina is as follows:

  • Eastern District: $6,500
  • Middle District:  $5,000

The court sets this maximum based upon it's perception of the average amount of attorney work involved in Chapter 13.  Unfortunately, the court is not out in the trenches doing our work.  And, as you can see, perceptions vary.  Working off this maximum, we then have to decide, based upon all our experience, whether this maximum is enough based upon our estimate of the work involved, which is, in turn, based upon the facts and circumstances of your particular situation.

However, the maximum is not necessarily what you would be charged.  In many Chapter 13 cases, we charge significantly less than maximum.  It just depends upon your particular circumstances. 

Our Chapter 13 attorney "flat" fees range from $2,500 to $6,450.  What you get charged will depend upon a lot of factors, including the following:

  • Do you have "secured" debts like house mortgages or vehicle loans to deal with?
  • Or, is all of your debt "unsecured"?
  • Are you eligible for one of our lower cost "Debt Buster" plans?
  • What district of North Carolina do you live in (Eastern or Middle)?
  • Are you above or below what is known as "median" income in terms of the "Means Test"?
  • Are you eligible for a 36 month plan or does the law require a full 60 month plan?
  • Are you paying more or less than $6,000 into your Chapter 13 plan?

Want  to see exactly how we would price out your Chapter 13 case?  (Click here) for the "Standard Chapter 13 case fee schedule. (Click here) for the "Debt-Buster" Qualified case fee schedule.

IMPORTANT NOTE: These prices may seem like a lot, especially to a person already in financial trouble, but please make sure you keep in mind that, for the most part, we are, in effect, getting your creditors to pay for everything.  (Click here)to find out what this is all about.   

The Bankruptcy Court does allow for some limited "extra" flat fees if certain specific things come up during the case.  If these don’t come up, you don’t get charged. They are as follows:

NOTE: In most, if not all cases, these fees, if awarded, are added into your Chapter 13 plan for payment. You are not required to pay them immediately "out of pocket".

Eastern District of North Carolina:

  • Motion for turnover
  • Motion to avoid lien (limited to one compensated motion per case)
  • Motion for authority to sell property
  • Defense of motion for relief from stay and/or co-debtor stay
  • Motion for hardship discharge 
  • Motion to value collateral and avoid mortgage

Middle District of North Carolina:

  • Motion for Authority to Sell Realty
  • Motion for Authority to Refinance or Modify Mortgage
  • Motion for Authority to Sell Personal Property
  • Motion to Substitute Collateral
  • Motion to Incur Indebtedness
  • Motion to Withdraw Funds from a Qualified Retirement Account
  • Motion to Modify Chapter 13 Plan
  • Motion to Approve Professional Person
  • Motion to Deem Mortgage Current
  • Objection to Mortgage Claim
  • Motion for Hardship Discharge
  • Motion to Avoid Judicial Lien 

NOTE: In the Middle District, there are further limits on these fees where 2 or more are filed at the same time.

Unlike Chapter 7, it is impossible to break down our services in Chapter 13 into its component parts. The reason is simple. It is impossible to predict with any certainty what is going to happen to you in your life over the 3 to 5 years of the Chapter 13 plan.  Unlike Chapter 7, where we merely look at the facts and circumstances of your "present" financial situation, and then file your case accordingly, in Chapter 13, as your attorney, we have to represent you for the next 3 to 5 years, kind of no matter what. And that means that, in Chapter 13, as your attorney, we are legally and ethically obligated to deal with any and all financial problems that come up during the next 3 to 5 years.  The problem is that there is no way for us to know what problems will come up.  We just know that we will have to deal with them, and only hope that the "flat fee" we charged is enough.  If it is not enough, we still have to do the work.

We do know this:   Problems will and do come up. Why? Because life does not stop happening just because you file bankruptcy under Chapter 13.  As a result, as your attorney, we are just as much “at risk” as you, our client, in terms of life’s many, unpredictable changes, turns and twists.   Just for example, if you, for any one of a number of good reasons (loss or change in employment, medical problems, emergencies, birth of a new child, family problems, divorce, etc.), can’t make your Chapter 13 plan payment, we, as your attorney, have to deal with it. If you need to buy or sell a vehicle, we, as your attorney, have to deal with it. And the list goes on. Basically speaking, whatever changes in circumstances and needs you, our client, encounter, we, as your attorney, have to deal with it.  And all the more at risk: (1) Because we have agreed to do almost everything for one “flat” fee, and (2) Because we only get paid if you, the client, make your Chapter 13 plan payments.

 

(22) Mandatory filing fee and other costs

Just so you know, the same everywhere, no matter where you file or who you file with.

Filing fee:

This has to be paid in every cases.  The biggest one if the filing fee.  In most cases, this must be paid when you case gets filed.   As of 2/26/22: The filing fee in Chapter 7 is $338.  In Chapter 13, it is $313. 

Mandatory debtor education classes:  

(1) "Before filing" Credit Counseling ($15 per case) and, if need be,
(2) "After filing" Debtor Education class ($15 per case.

Credit reports

We always pull your credit report ($10 per client)

Judgments of record search:

We always do a judgment-of-record search ($10 per client).

Pacer Access Fee:

Lastly, we charge a $10 Pacer Access fee (to cover the cost of pulling court records)

 

(23) Tons of Experience

It goes without saying that experience matters. The more experience, the better the representation, and the better the representation, the less chance of a mistake.  And we have tons of it.  We are an established bankruptcy law firm.  We have been helping people get free from the burden of debt since 1985.   We have helped well in excess of 72,343 families get free from the burden of debt. That is a lot of experience we can then bring to bear in your case. At one time or another, we have handled every possible issue that can come up under the law.  Assuming you are open and honest with us, and assuming nothing significant changes in your situation “after” filing, our experience guarantees you the best result available under the law.

 

(24) Experience without being charged more for experience.

With us, experience does not cost more.  To the best of our knowledge, we don’t charge any more than an attorney with less experience.

 

(25) Accurate pricing, based on experience.

As a result of our experience, we can better determine the amount of work, time, and staff necessary to complete each element of our service, making our determination of “flat” fees more accurate, thereby avoiding your being overcharged.

 

(26) There is no guesswork in what we charge

Unlike other areas of law, under the bankruptcy laws, and based our extensive experience interpreting and applying those laws, we can figure out and tell you the exact result we can achieve. The truth is that we have run and handled into every possible scenario. The true benefit of experience.  This assumes you are completely open and honest with us. Figuring out exactly what we can do for you  is the main purpose of your FREE initial consultation.  It is only after we complete this process that we know exactly what needs to be done in your particular case. It is only then that we can accurately compute the correct attorney fee that needs to be charged.  Hopefully, this helps you to understand why,  when you call in to speak with us for the first time, we can, at best, provide you a full range of fees. For example: Chapter 7 attorney fees range from $1,000 to $5,400, with most cases averaging around $1,500 to $1,700*.  Chapter 13 fees attorney fees range from $2,500 to $6,450, with most cases averaging between $5,000 and $6,450*.  (*This does not included the filing fees and other out of pocket costs, which usually total between $340 and $390, depending on the chapter and whether or not you are filing with a spouse). NOTE: For your protection, the Bankruptcy Court sets the maximum fees we can charge.

 

(27) We have enough staff to get the work done.

This may not seem like a big thing until the filing of your bankruptcy case gets delayed because your attorney does not have enough staff to get the work done.  The delay can cost you a lot of extra stress, worry and loss of sleep because, until your case is filed, you don't have the protection of the Bankruptcy Court.   We work very hard to make sure this never happens to you.  We have 11 fully experienced and full-time bankruptcy attorneys, and a total of over 60 experienced, full-time staff.  With us, if your case filing gets delayed, chances are it's because we are still waiting on information or payments from you.  (Payments, of course, are not a problem is your enrolled in our "$0 Money-Down" program.)

 

(28) Why bankruptcy is cheaper than ALL the alternatives.

This is always true, regardless of what the companies selling "alternatives to bankruptcy" will try to sell you.  Think about it.  Where else in the world can you get rid of debt, actually get rid of debt, with basically the stroke of a pen?  The way others "sell' you and make sure you don't go see a bankruptcy attorney is to feed off of your fear, with things like:  "Oh, you don't want to file bankruptcy."  They do it because it works, not because it's true.  But, the truth is that this only works because the mere mention of "bankruptcy" strikes fear in your heart, and because most people don't take the time to find out how bankruptcy really works.  The results can be amazing.   But, not if you don't take the time to find out for yourself.   That's what our FREE initial consultation is for.  We can show you how bankruptcy really works and the great things that filing would do to make your life better, almost instantly.  That's what this website and the FREE initial consultation are all about.  Educating you so that, if you really need the kind of help that only filing bankruptcy can provide, you don't get taken to the cleaners by someone hawking a "non-bankruptcy" alternative.  Too, too, many times, we have heard the stories.  People worse off, rather than better off.  People only wishing they had come to see us sooner.  Hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars wasted and nothing to show for it.

For now, let me leave you with this question to ask the credit counseling, debt settlement and debt management outfits, or whoever else may have grabbed your attention.  "Can I get rid of ALL my credit cards debt, medical bills, and personal loans … WITHOUT PAYING FOR THEM?"  A word of caution: If they say "yes", they are lying to you!   Your best bet: Come find out what filing bankruptcy can do for you.  Then, if you are still curious, have at it.  Go see them.  If they tell you the truth, you will see for yourself.  Nothing else comes even close to the power of bankruptcy.

Click here to see a comparison chart:   (Click here) and for a discussion of "7 Alternatives To Filing Bankruptcy" (Click here)

 

(29) Two bankruptcies basically for the price of one.

There is no extra cost to include your spouse in your filing.  This applies to Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.  This assumes that, in doing so, adding your spouse doesn't end of requiring one or more of the "extra services" referenced above.

 

(30) Help you get after you finish your bankruptcy case.

The first step is to get rid of debt.  That's what filing bankruptcy does best.   The second step is to help you make the most of your new "fresh start" after bankruptcy.  With us, helping you does not stop when your bankruptcy case is done and over with.  We have made arrangements for you to get all 4 of the following FREE benefits:

  • A FREE SERIES OF EMAILS written by attorney John Orcutt to provide you valuable information, tips, and suggestions to try to answer the questions: "Where do I go from here?" and "How do I get started?".

    • Topics will include the following:
      • Things you should do.
      • Things you should NOT do.
      • Credit rebuilding tips
      • Getting ready to buy a new home.
      • Buying a new car or truck.
      • Protecting against illegal actions by your former creditors.
      • Dealing with a new reality and new feelings.
      • Reflections / Food for thought
      • Telling your story

  • A FREE BOOK entitled "Credit Score Keys: How To Rebuild Your Credit Score After Bankruptcy", written by bankruptcy attorney and credit expert Shawn Orcutt. 

  • A FREE COURSE called "7 Steps To A 720 Credit Score", created by credit expert Philip Tirone to show you how to quickly and easily rebuild your credit and your credit score in as little as 24 months.**

  • FREE CREDIT REPORT REVIEW & REPAIR after bankruptcy by a law firm dedicated to finding and fixing errors on credit reports.  Where necessary and appropriate, this law firm will also take the legal action necessary to enforce your rights under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

** For the record, as a public service to our clients and others, we offer the book, course, and credit report review and repair, FOR FREE, to anyone who files bankruptcy in North Carolina after 3/1/22, whether or not they use us for their filing.

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