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How Much Do Sacramento Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyers Cost?

If you're planning to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the assistance of an attorney, you're probably wondering how much a Sacramento Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer costs. This article will explain how bankruptcy attorneys bill for their time.

What Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as straight bankruptcy, is the quickest and simplest form of personal bankruptcy. With Chapter 7, a court-appointed trustee sells some of your assets and gives the money to your creditors. Once that's happened, your remaining debts are wiped out.

The property that's sold is known as non-exempt property, and might include a vacation home or extra car. However, most people who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy have no non-exempt property to sell. These cases are known as no-asset cases.

How Sacramento Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Lawyers Bill Clients

Bankruptcy lawyers generally bill for their time in one of two ways: An hourly fee (also known as an hourly rate) or a flat fee.

With an hourly fee, the lawyer tracks the time he spends working on your Sacramento Chapter 7 bankruptcy case and then multiplies the total time worked by his hourly billing rate. You'll also be charged for related costs and expenses, such as filing fees and photocopying costs.

The lawyer's hourly billing rate will vary depending on a number of factors, including his:

When meeting lawyers who charge an hourly rate, don't focus only on the rate. Also ask the lawyer for an estimate of the total cost to handle your case. A lawyer with more experience, for example, may work more efficiently than a less experienced, less expensive attorney, and may cost less in the long run.

The biggest disadvantage to an hourly rate is that it's unpredictable. If your Sacramento Chapter 7 bankruptcy case hits unexpected snags, your lawyer will work on it longer and your total cost will increase.

With a flat fee, you pay a predetermined price for the lawyer to handle your Sacramento bankruptcy case. Flat fees are most commonly used for very predictable legal work, and if you have a straightforward Chapter 7 bankruptcy—particularly if you're a no-asset case—the lawyer may feel comfortable charging a flat fee to handle your case.

Questions to Ask When Discussing Legal Fees

Before hiring a lawyer, you'll want to ask a lot of questions about legal fees and estimated costs. Questions to ask Sacramento bankruptcy lawyers include:

  • Do you charge an hourly rate or a flat fee? What is that rate or fee?
  • What additional costs and expenses will I have to pay?
  • Can you give me a total estimate of my legal fees, costs and expenses?
  • If you charge a flat fee, are there any situations where I would have to pay more in legal fees?
  • When is payment due?
  • Do you offer payment plans?
  • Is your fee negotiable?

Once you thoroughly understand the cost to hire a Sacramento Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer, you'll be in a better position to select an attorney and move forward with your case.