When you call for your bankruptcy consultation with Bill Balena what can you expect? First, to have a bankruptcy consultation you must not be currently represented by a bankruptcy attorney, and second, you must live in one of the counties that make up the Northern District of Ohio. For my practice these counties are:
- Lorain County
- Cuyahoga County
- Erie County
- Huron County
- Medina County
- Summit County
If you reside in a county adjoining any of these, or in any other county, I have a network of excellent bankruptcy lawyers from which I can make a direct referral.
The purpose of our meeting is to decide:
- Do you even need to file for bankruptcy?
- If you need a bankruptcy should it be a chapter 7?
- Or should it be a chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Sounds easy doesn’t it? Shouldn’t take too much time either, right? Answering these three questions takes nearly an hour of discussion and reviewing your documents that I asked you to bring with you to the bankruptcy consultation. If you don’t bring the documents with you there will be no discussion.
Although you will normally be meeting with me to eliminate your bills, we will spend very little time on that part of the information. It is much more important to cover things like
- household payroll info for last 6 months
- value of personal property
- value of your real estate
- personal business transactions for the past few months
- income tax returns
- divorce obligations
I know it is very scary and terribly stressful to discuss these things with a total stranger. I try to keep the mood upbeat and cheery. You are coming for help. I am on your side. I want my law firm to be your answer, not part of the pressure that everyone else is so good at making you suffer. I always keep a box of tissues handy.
Once you conclude that some kind of bankruptcy is your best choice we decide together how much this will cost. Chapter 13 cases are easy. The courts in Cleveland and Akron control the attorney fee. Most chapter 13 attorneys charges the same amount. The only leeway we have is how much of the fee you pay in advance. The fee for a Cleveland chapter 13 case is $3,000.00 with up to $800 paid in advance and the balance paid through the plan in monthly installments over the first year. There are allowances for additional fees if approved by the court.
For a Chapter 7 case it is different. There is no fee set by the court. Every attorney does things differently. We will decide on a fee amount. I will quote this total to include all the costs and expenses you need to pay to get the case filed. Many lawyers just quote you only the fee portion to appear less expensive than others in the field. Bankruptcy done right is expensive. The time for games is over. You are in my office for a reason. I want to help you, I want to be your bankruptcy attorney and I you to receive value for what you are paying.
The meeting we are having is a bankruptcy consultation office appointment. Many clients bring money to get things rolling faster. That is up to you. Do bring your debit card so we can set up the payment plan.
Whatever chapter we are filing under you are in complete control of your payment plan. We will set up a payment schedule that works best for you. It is best to complete your payments in 60 days. Otherwise your information gets stale and will need updated. That can mean more attorney fees.
Once you sign the retainer agreement I want you to give my office number to any collection agents. This will stop many of the calls. Remember what I said about delivering you value? All that remains after that is paying the balance due, keeping your documents up to date, completing the credit counseling, and coming in for a signing appointment when your petition is ready to be filed.
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