In an effort to keep the bankruptcy process affordable, we have implemented a new fee structure. For low income individuals (people that earn at least 25 percent less than the Texas state median income, the fees charged will be lowered back to the pre-bankruptcy reform levels.
If you research the fees charged by any other bankruptcy attorney in the greater Houston, Galveston or Bryan / College Station area, you should find that our Chapter 7 fees are the lowest for any board certified bankruptcy lawyer. Please let us know if any other attorney (board certified or not) quotes a lower fee. We will do our best to match or beat other quoted fees.
Chapter 7 Cases
$1,050 plus the filing fee (includes instructions to obtain 3 free credit reports – see details below). This fee structure will apply to the following types of cases:
(1) 20 Percent Below Median Income. The total combined household income for every member of the household during the six calendar months prior to the bankruptcy filing, and during the foreseeable future, must be at least 25 percent below the Texas state median income for a household of the same size. You must count as income any funds paid by any other person on regular basis for the household expenses, even if the person making the payments does not intend to file for bankruptcy. See the Texas state median income table to determine if you meet this criteria.
(2) 10 or Fewer Creditors. You must have a total of 10 or less creditors.
(3) All Assets Exempt. All assets must be exempt from seizure under applicable state or federal law. We will help you determine whether your assets are exempt. All assets are exempt in 99 percent of all bankruptcy cases.
(4) No Businesses or Business Assets. The person that files for bankruptcy must not have a significant business operation or business assets at the time the case is filed.
(5) Tax Cases. Cases involving the discharge of federal, state or local taxes are excluded from this fee structure. Tax claims can be discharged in bankruptcy if the tax debt meets certain criteria (See, Discharging Tax Debts in Bankruptcy). However, processing cases involving an attempt to discharge tax claims requires that we: (a) obtain tax transcripts and/or records of account from the IRS or other tax authorities, and (b) engage in a detailed and time consuming analysis, on a year by year basis, of the dischargeability of the tax.
(6) Payment of Fees and Costs. You will pay an initial retainer fee of $200 when you retain our office to handle your case. All fees and costs must be paid, and you must provide us with all information needed to file your case, within 90 days after the initial interview. If the case is not filed within 90 days after the initial interview, the total fee will be higher.
(7) Computer and E-Mail Capabilities. You must have a personal computer (PC or Mac), have the knowledge and ability to correspond via e-mail, and the ability to open, view and print files in PDF format (Public Domain Format). Experience has taught us that it is much more difficult, time consuming and expensive to communicate with clients via U.S. mail, or when the client is repeatedly required to visit the office to review or deliver documents in person. It is much more efficient and less expensive to communicate with clients that have computer and e-mail skills. We will handle most correspondence via e-mail and telephone, except for the initial interview, and the final review and signing of the bankruptcy documents.
Free Credit Reports Included.
Under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act) consumers can request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies. As part of our service, we will help you obtain your current credit report from each of the 3 major national credit reporting bureaus. There will be no additional charge so long as you have not already obtained a free credit report during the prior 12 months pursuant to the FACT Act.
There is a website (Annualcreditreport.com) jointly operated by the three major U.S. credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). It was created to facilitate compliance by the credit reporting agencies with their obligations under the FACT Act and provide consumers with a mechanism to receive a free annual credit report. You may obtain a copy of your credit reports by using this website.
All other cases, including cases involving significant assets, high income debtors (income above Texas state median income), or significant pre-bankruptcy planning, will involve a higher fee. We can not give a precise fee estimate on such cases until we personally discuss your case. However, we will be happy to provide you with a rough range of the expected fee amount by discussing your case over the telephone before you come to the office.
Chapter 11 Cases
Chapter 11 cases are much more difficult and expensive that Chapter 7 and 13 cases. The procedures and document requirements are much more complicated and time consuming. All Chapter 11 cases are different and do not lend themselves to the use of standard boilerplate forms. As a result, it is impossible to handle a Chapter 11 case on a flat fee basis. All lawyers in all Chapter 11 cases are required to work on an hourly basis and justify their fees to the court. The lawyer must kept detailed records of all time spent in 1/10th of an hour increments. The lawyer is required to periodically file a fee application requesting the court to approve the payment of fees and costs.
We do not change an initial consultation fee for Chapter 11 cases unless the initial meeting is expected to last longer than 1 hour. In an extended meeting is anticipated, the total initial consultation fee will normally range between $250 and $300. This fee will normally cover several hours of time. If you decide to proceed with the case, most cases normally require the deposit an initial retainer fee of between $3,000 and $15,000, depending on the complexity of the case. Many cases also normally require additional monthly payments, which are deposited into our trust account, and are not disbursed until the court issues an order approving the payment.
Chapter 13 Cases
In most Chapter 13 cases, a portion of the attorney fee is normally paid before the case is filed. The remaining fees are normally paid after the case if filed, as part of the bankruptcy plan payment.
Pre-Filing Retainer. In chapter 13 cases, the total pre-filing fee will vary between $0.00 and $500 depending on the merits of the case. We may request a pre-filing retainer fee in excess of $500 if you are a repeat filer (a person that has had another bankruptcy case pending at any time during the year prior to the date the new bankruptcy case is filed). You will normally have several months to pay any pre-filing retainer fees unless a foreclosure sale of your home has already been scheduled.
The merits of the case will largely depend on your ability and willingness to make plan payments. Your ability to make plan payments depends on the stability and amount of your income. Cases involving persons with fluctuating or irregular income are difficult and are likely to fail. Cases involving salaried persons with regular, stable and long term employment are much more likely to succeed.
Total Fee. The total fee for handling a consumer Chapter 13 case is normally $3,500 (plus the court filing fee), depending on the complexity of the case. This is the standard flat fee amount established by the Bankruptcy Court. This is customary fee charged by most attorneys in the Southern District of Texas. Normally, the majority of this fee is paid in installments as part of the bankruptcy plan payments.
The current bankruptcy filing fees are as follows:
Chapter 7 Cases: $335
Chapter 11 Cases: $1,717
Chapter 12 Cases: $275
Chapter 13 Cases: $310
These costs are paid to the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Weber Law Firm, P.C. does not keep any portion of the filing fee. For cases filed by individuals (not corporations or partnerships) the payment of the filing fee can be deferred by requesting the court to permit the filing fee to be paid in installments. The number of proposed installments may not exceed four (4), and the final installment must be paid not later than 120 days after filing the bankruptcy petition with the court.