IF I’M BROKE, HOW CAN I AFFORD TO HIRE A BANKRUPTCY ATTORNEY?
A common question among bankruptcy filers is how anyone can expect them to have the money to hire an attorney if they don’t have money to pay their bills. It is a fair question that we deal with day in and day out. You have 3 basic solutions to this problem.
First, you can reach out to one of the pro bono organizations to see if you qualify for a free bankruptcy attorney. There are various legal aid programs out there, such as Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program and Gulf Coast Legal Aid. If you qualify for their program based upon your income, you might be able to just pay the filing fees and receive the attorney for free. The downside is that these programs often have long waits before you are assigned an attorney. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try them, however, to see if you qualify and, if so, how long the wait will be.
Second, you could file the case yourself. You are not required to have an attorney and can file the case and represent yourself. The court calls this type of case, pro se. If you are good about reading and analyzing rules, statutes and forms, then you can go to a legal library, obtain the forms, and fill them out yourself. You can then go down to the clerk’s office and file the case. You need to be aware that if you fail to follow all the rules and steps, your case may be dismissed though. Bankruptcy is very cumbersome filled with many forms that must be accurately completed, filed and sent to the court, the trustee, the US Trustee, your creditors, etc. You must do it all exactly as required or possibly have your case tossed out, causing you to lose time and money in the process.
Third, you can hire a qualified and seasoned bankruptcy attorney that can help you understand the rules, complete the forms for you and attend the court hearings with you. This is the smartest approach, although I understand not everyone can afford to do so. Our firm does offer various payment options to help you make the payments over time and still obtain the relief that you need. In a Chapter 13, you pay part of the fees up front, then the rest are generally paid out in the 3 to 5 year payment plan. In a Chapter 7, we need to receive our fees prior to filing, because once we file, any remaining fees owed to us are discharged like the other debts, but you can make a payment plan to pay these fees over time before filing the Chapter 7 case. We will work with you the best we can to make it affordable and workable for you.
If you want to discuss this topic further, please contact me at 281-847-4345 or [email protected] so we can discuss your individual situation and see if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 would work for you and how we can help you set up a plan to pay the required fees. The consultation is free. Take the first step by calling me today. I look forward to hearing from you soon.