How Much Does a Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney Cost
If you've been weighing the pros and cons of filing for bankruptcy, it may be time to call a Georgia bankruptcy attorney. But you may be wondering how much an attorney could cost. This article will explain how bankruptcy lawyers charge for their time.
The amount of your legal bill be influenced by several factors, including:
- The billing method the lawyer prefers
- How much the lawyer charges within that billing method
- How long it takes until your bankruptcy is finalized
- The amount of other related expenses, such as filing fees or credit counseling
How an attorney bills for his or her time is just as important as what the actual fee is. Typically, bankruptcy attorneys in Georgia use one of two billing methods: an hourly fee and a flat fee.
No matter which one your attorney uses, you're likely to have a host of other expenses on top of the fees for legal services. Some additional expenses will be:
- Court fees
- Trustee fees (a trustee is the person assigned to oversee the bankruptcy)
- Consumer counseling fees
- Personal financial management education tuition
You may also be charged for other items not included in the lawyer's fee, such as photocopying, travel, or use of a paralegal.
Whether you are in Atlanta or Macon or any other part of the state, you may request that a lawyer adjust his or her pricing for you, but any negotiations regarding fees must be conducted before you hire a Georgia bankruptcy lawyer. Once you have hired a lawyer, it is too late to change the fee structure.
Hiring a Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney by the Hour
If you were to hire a Georgia bankruptcy attorney who charges by the hour, he or she most likely would ask you to pay a retainer fee, which acts as a down payment for the legal services to come. You'll then receive monthly billing statements for the hours your lawyer worked on your filing.
You'll notice on your bill that bankruptcy attorneys in Georgia who charge by the hour usually break the hour into one-quarter (15-minute) or one-tenth (6-minute) increments. The difference between them may seem small, but it does add up.
Let's take a 10-minute phone call, for example. A lawyer who charges $200 in 15-minute increments would charge you $50 for that call. A $200-an-hour attorney who breaks his or her time into 6-minute increments would only charge you $40 for that same 5-minute call.
A Georgia bankruptcy lawyer's hourly fee is influenced by many factors:
- How much experience the lawyer has
- Your location
- How complicated your filing is
- The cost of overhead to run the law firm or office
Don't make the mistake of assuming just because a lawyer charges more by the hour, your final legal bill will be more. Experienced bankruptcy lawyers in Georgia may be better versed in the law's smallest details and may be more efficient with their time, thus saving you money.
Hiring a Georgia Bankruptcy Lawyer for a Flat Fee
Lawyers who charge a flat fee typically handle routine items, such as writing a will or helping a consumer file for bankruptcy. If your Georgia attorney charges a flat fee, find out what that fee includes. It's likely that it will not include court fees and other related costs.
How and when you pay your flat fee will vary from lawyer to lawyer. Ask about a payment plan when you are in the interview stage before hiring a Georgia bankruptcy attorney.
Also, ask if the flat fee is refundable. Often it is not. This means that if you change your mind about filing for bankruptcy, or you want to switch lawyers, you will not get your money back. If you have any doubts, discuss this with before hiring an attorney on a flat fee.
The Cost of Hiring a Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney
Now that you know what goes into a legal bill, you can ask a lot of questions while still in the interview stage of the attorney search. Some relevant questions to ask are:
- Do you charge a flat fee or by the hour?
- What does your fee cover? What does it not cover?
- What other expenses will I owe? Can you give me an estimate for them?
- Is there any room for negotiation?
- If you charge a flat fee, what kind of payment plans do you offer?
Once you get the answers to these questions, you'll know exactly how much it costs to hire a Georgia bankruptcy attorney.