Bankruptcy isn’t free — not even close. If you’re nose deep in debt, that may sound like a cruel hoax, but that is the reality that has to be dealt with. The actual cost of filing, however, can vary from place to place and from law office to law office.
Attorney Susan Robicsek, who practices in North Carolina, has written a nice piece explaining why. Among her reasons:
* Pricing a bankruptcy case “is not the same as purchasing a Nintendo Wii.” In other words, the case itself isn’t a fungible commodity, and there is no reason for bankruptcy clients to be charged for more services than they need.
* You don’t necessarily want the cheapest lawyer in town. Low price may be a sign of efficiency. On the other hand, it may also be a sign of inexperience, cutting corners, or even desperation. You don’t want to buy in to the latter.
* Location counts: you can’t judge the cost of a Lawrence or Haverhill bankruptcy case against New York City or Montana. Access to the court, overhead, and some filing requirements will make the total price different everywhere.
* Do-it-yourself can cost you. Of course, it saves in the short haul, but soon you’ll be before a judge alone, possibly with a mistake worth thousands of dollars on the line. Most people find its usually better to pay for help and sleep at night.
By Doug Beaton