Below you will find my answers to FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.
How much does it cost total?
$1,335. I get about $925 - $950 of that, and the rest goes toward other costs.
Do you pay the court filing fee out of the money I give you?
Do you run and pay for a credit report out of the money I give you?
Yes. I run one unless you provide me a recent credit report you ran yourself, but the cost of the credit report is included in the $1,335 total you pay to me.
Do you do free consultations?
Not in person, but I would be happy to answer any questions by phone or e-mail; so I will do a free consult like that. When you come in for an appointment in person, I expect you to have made up your mind that you want to file bankruptcy, and I expect you to appear to pay me $500 within minutes of meeting me for my time. If you later change your mind about filing bankruptcy, that $500 is not refundable. However, if we learn you do not qualify to file bankruptcy due to having too high of income or learn you might lose an asset if you file, I will refund any funds paid in full regardless of how much time I have spent on your case, unless that is due to you taking on a new job or getting a substantial raise between the time of you hiring me and the filing of the bankruptcy, which happens in rare instances where clients pay the minimum $500 month upfront and then disappear for months before paying off the balance.
How much do I have to pay you upfront?
I prefer to have the entire flat fee upfront, but receive that less than half the time. Honestly, I do not want to meet with you in person until you have at least $500 in hand; but for that I will not start on the paperwork (because I do not know how long it will take you to pay the balance, and I do not want to have to redo the paperwork due to the passing of time), but will only tell creditors you direct to me that, yes, I am representing you in a bankruptcy; paying only $500 or anything less than the full amount will not get the case filed and will therefore not stop lawsuits or garnishments. However, it will get me preparing the necessary documents to be filed with the Bankruptcy Court. However, before I file the case with the Court, I will need the full $1,335 paid to me.
Do I have to pay all funds before you will file it?
Yes, the entire fee, the filing fee, and the 1st course of mandatory 2 bankruptcy courses must be done, and the credit report must be run. There are a number of reasons why I must wait until the entire fee has been made and why I cannot allow you to make payments after the bankruptcy is filed. First, I use $335.00 of the money you give me to pay to the Court for the filing fee, which is quite a chunk of money. Secondly, most of the work I do is done before the case is ever filed. Reviewing the documentation you provide to me and preparing the paperwork are very time-consuming tasks, where as going to Court and post-filing work is not so. Third, your filing bankruptcy because you cannot pay your debts, so I should not safely assume you be actually make your payments to me. Finally, because except for certain exceptions Chapter 7 discharges all pre-petition debt, I would be a fool without any collection remedy if I were not paid in full prior to filing the case. If you did not pay off your balance you had agreed to after the case was already filed, I would be prohibited by law from bothering you about it or trying to collect, just as the other creditors are prohibited from doing so. For this reason, I will not file the case until the total fee has been paid to me; and you should be cautious if considering retaining any attorney who is willing to allow you to make such payments because such attorney is either a fool for doing so or someone who unethically harassing who that attorney is supposed to be helping stop creditor harassment and get out of debt.
Do you have a money-back guarantee?
Yes, but only to this extent: If your bankruptcy filed under Chapter 7 is converted to Chapter 13 due to your income being too high or just outright dismissed for the same reason or because of some error in the paperwork which is my fault (and which won't happen), I will give you a full refund of what you have paid me. Because I will refund you all your money, I will ultimately end up paying the filing $335 court filing fee too and losing not only time but that. In over 1,500 Chapter 7 bankruptcies, I have never had a case converted to a Chapter 13 and have had only 8 cases get dismissed, which occurred due to one client's false statement and a few's failure to ever come to Court and others' voluntary choice to dismiss. I am supposed to say, however, that past performance does not guarantee future results. But let's just say that I have never had to honor this money-back guarantee yet. Yes, if your bankruptcy were dismissed due to a fault of mine and not yours, such as your committing fraud, failing to disclose something obviously significant to me, or failing to appear at court, then I will give you a full refund. Also, if you pay a down-payment, I prepare a draft of the documents, and you disappear the months due to financial or family crises or trying to come up with the balance, do not expect a refund in that instance.
Does a married couple cost more than a single person?
Yes. I make $25 less myself as I am paying for two credit reports versus one, but the overall price to a married couple filing jointly is still only $1,335, and NOT $1,335 times two.
Do you accept payment by credit card?
Yes, but not Discover or American Express. I ACCEPT VISA AND MASTERCARD ONLY. However, I strongly discourage you from using your own credit card payment to pay me just before filing bankruptcy, as that last-minute charge may later be deemed non-dischargeable and you may still owe that after bankruptcy. If you wish to use someone else's card, I will need to obtain a written and verbal recorded authorization from the person who is the account holder of the card.
What does credit counseling cost? Do you pay for that out of what I pay you?
Scroll up, read some, and you will see this question answered.
If I change my mind about filing bankruptcy after I have retained you but before you have filed, will I get any of my money back?
No. If I have prepared a draft of the documents, which I usually began working on within a few days after meeting with you, you will get back anything you have paid over $800, so as much as $585. The logic in that is, because we did not file the case, you have an unused filing fee of $335 of that $800. The difference, then, is $200, which is really the value of my work after the case is filed. All the work is done in getting the case ready to file; it is communicating, reviewing documents, and drafting documents. After the bankruptcy is filed, the only remaining work for the most part is one brief Court appearance and a handful of communications, which I value as $200 worth of work; since that work wasn't done, you are refunded that too, explaining the fact that if the bankruptcy is prepared but you change your mind before it is filed, then you get refunded anything you have paid above and beyond $800. So if you paid in full, that amount would be $585. Anyway, do not hire me if you're not sure you want to file bankruptcy. It costs to be flakey. Be decisive.
Will you run a credit report for me?
Yes, at my cost. I use a service called Credit InfoNet which uses Transunion and Experian. If you additionally want Equifax (who in January of 2018 made national news for interfering with customer privacy via online hacking) or any other random credit-report service, you may run and pay for it yourself and provide me a copy of any additional creditors to include.
Can I make payments to you? How does that work?
Yes, in a way. Scroll up, read the other questions, and you should find the answer to this question here.
How long do I have to pay you the entire amount?
You have until 4 months from the date you pay the initial $500. Because I do these cases on a low flat fee, I lose money if they hang out in my office for, say, a year, so I must give a deadline. In some cases, I may be willing to work with you for certain reasons and extend that time. However, in most instances, I ask that the balance be paid off in full within 4 months; otherwise, you forfeit what you paid to me and I do no further work on the case after that 4-month period, except that I will refund any funds you have paid over $800 as I would not consider those earned as I had not paid the court filing fee and had not gone to the bankruptcy Court hearing.
What happens to money I give you other than the filing fee and other costs?
It goes to me for my hard work. For my work, I receive about $925 to $950 depending on whether you are filing alone or jointly.
I want to do the bankruptcy myself. Will you give me the forms?
No. I am an attorney operating a law office seeking to represent you, not some unlicensed person seeking to make money in the legal arena from people who wish to try to do their own bankruptcies. Fortunately, I have a law license and a juris doctorate degree. Unfortunately, however, I incurred substantial student loans, spent decades later paying them off, and worked through college and law school for more than 7 years to obtain this degree and this license. Like most of you, I have bills to pay; unlike you, I cannot get out of paying them by filing bankruptcy.
I am not in Oklahoma. Can you represent me?
Probably not. You need to have resided in Oklahoma for at least 6 months to establish residency. You must have residency in order to file bankruptcy in Oklahoma. Even if you have just moved out-of-state after residing here for more than 6 months, you would have to travel back to go to Court here and should probably consider waiting until you have established residency elsewhere and file your bankruptcy there.
Is court always in the county where I live?
No. Bankruptcy courts are divisions of the federal court system. Consequently, they have nothing to do with your local county or district court. There are only three federal districts in Oklahoma. I can tell you where you will go to Court if you tell me the town in which you live.
Is there anything I can do to make things move faster?
There is an entire webpage devoted to Preparing to File on this website. Please look above at the top of the page. I think you will find "Prepare to File" up there.
Your office is far from me. Must I travel to retain you?
No. Perhaps you do not feel like doing the drive. If so, we can do the initial paperwork and retainer agreement by mail, and after that we can conduct all communications by telephone, mail, and/or e-mail. I have several out-of-state and long-distance clients, or clients who are in the local and Tulsa metropolitan area but who just do not feel like taking the time to travel to my office. In fact, I have several out-of-state clients who have never actually set foot in my office, many of whom I will never meet in person. If a document needs to be signed, I can mail it to you with a return envelope enclosed, and you can sign it and mail it back to me. In the alternative, I can e-mail it to you, and you can print it out and sign it and mail it back to me--whatever works best for you.
Do you take faraway cases? If so, do you charge extra?
Yes to the first question, and no to the second. How far you live from my office is irrelevant to me since I will not have to travel to your residence. Rather, that all depends on whether or not you are willing to travel to see me or if you are comfortable with simply conducting business by mail. As far as my physical distance from any of the courts or creditor meetings locations, you need not worry about that either. I can always decline to take a case if I wish, and I generally turn down cases for people residing in the Lawton area or Southwestern corner of the state, since the drive to the creditor's meeting in Lawton is quite long for me. But I regularly go to Tulsa and Okmulgee and occasionally also to Oklahoma City and Enid.
In what bankruptcy courts and locations have you appeared?
All of them in this state. I have appeared at all three bankruptcy courts in Oklahoma and at every existing creditor's meeting location of which I am aware.
What are the "Districts," and how do I know mine?
"Northern District," "Eastern District," and "Western District" are designated areas based upon federal-court jurisdiction. I can tell you which district you are in if you tell me the town in which you live. Just ask. Many people think they go to their local county court for bankruptcy. Nope. Bankruptcy is its own Court. Technically, it's a federal Court thing, but it's not even held in the federal courts.
What court-approved credit counseling agencies are currently available?
You can find a list of the them on my "Prepare to File" page.
So do I need to do my credit counseling before I come see you?
No. You just need to do the pre-petition credit counseling before we can file your bankruptcy. Typically, I provide you with an up-to-date list of available agencies when you retain me, and within the week after that you get your credit counseling done while I am preparing your bankruptcy paperwork.
So what is the "financial management" course? Are there two different counseling sessions?
Yes. The pre-petition counseling is done before bankruptcy. The financial management part of it you do not worry about until later. You get that done after you have filed bankruptcy and no later than 45 days after your scheduled court date. Neither session typically takes more than a few hours of your time. I can answer questions you may have about the process.
What on earth is a "debt-relief agency"? I want an attorney, not that.
An attorney is and can be a debt-relief agency. A debt-relief agency is an agency or person who assists others in the bankruptcy process. It is a term that Congress created when they passed the Bankruptcy Reform Act in October, 2005. In my opinion, it is an annoying term. Regardless, we are supposed to use it. But do not let it confuse you. Yes, I am a debt-relief agency; but also, yes, I am a real attorney with a real law office and two office locations.
What are the "Section 527 Disclosures"?
They are disclosures that under the Bankruptcy Reform Act passed in October, 2005, a debt-relief agency or bankruptcy attorney is bound to make/disclose to potential clients. I make them here on line. They appear on the General Info page and are downloadable from the Ready-to-Retain page as well. Looking at my colleagues' sites online, I do not see the disclosures posted. On some, I do not even see the required "We are a Debt Relief Agency" acting under the "Bankruptcy Code" language that is required in advertisements. That is unfortunate for these attorneys and debt-relief agencies, since they can be sanctioned by the Court for failure to make the disclosures and using this language, as they are violating the law. Do NOT use an attorney who advises you to lie or commit fraud or to be untruthful with the Court, as there may be grave consequences. If the attorney or agency you select is to lazy to require that you read the Section 527 disclosures, take the initiative to read them yourself. Also, review your bankruptcy paperwork carefully before you sign it. Make sure the information in it is truthful and accurate.
How many Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases have you filed? How many of those went through successfully to discharge?
As of last count on 04/01/2018, I was at 1,590. As I recall, all but maybe a dozen of those were successful. Of those, people changed their mind after filing, due to getting a good job after filing, or moving faraway and not coming to Court, or suddenly feeling bad about filing bankruptcy and chosing to voluntarily dismiss their cases. I believe that's over a 99% success rate.
WE ARE A FEDERALLY DESIGNATED DEBT RELIEF AGENCY PURSUANT TO TITLE 11 OF THE U.S. CODE.
WE PROVIDE LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND HELP PEOPLE FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY RELIEF UNDER THE BANKRUPTCY CODE.
WE PROVIDE LEGAL ASSISTANCE AND HELP PEOPLE FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY RELIEF UNDER THE BANKRUPTCY CODE.