I get calls (or emails) regularly from people who want to know how much I charge for a bankruptcy.
Oh, somewhere between $1,000 and $25 million. Ok, so I don’t actually say that. It is, however, a reasonably good answer. Ok, ok, so I’ve never actually anything close to $25 million; but then, I’ve never represented Enron.
The price to file a bankruptcy is going to depend on a number of things, and how much money you owe really isn’t one of them. Basically, I try to figure out how much time I am gong to have to spend to get your case prepared, filed and finalized. I then quote a price based on that conclusion.
Frequently, these phone calls also include the comment that the caller has talked to another attorney; and that attorney has told the caller that he will have to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy — because he makes too much money.
I haven’t figured out yet how other attorneys can do that. It takes me well over an hour to do even a rough run through of the full means test. There is no way I could even begin to figure out whether a caller could pass the means test or not over the phone. My guess is that this telephone pre-screening is being done either by attorneys who are using income as the almost exclusive factor in determining access to a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or they think they make more money doing Chapter 13 filings and are looking for a way to herd people in that direction.
I find that most of the people who call me really want to file a Chapter 7 and virtually all of them are eligible for a Chapter 7 — if I put enough work into getting them through the Means Test. I do, of course, charge for that; but not nearly as much as spending 5 years in a Chapter 13 will wind up costing.