Tollefsen Law focuses on providing excellent service and reasonable fees. Even if you are not in financial distress, it is important to plan you financial affairs with an understanding of legal and financial risks. If you have financial problems, it is important that you plan before you have no room to maneuver. TL’s financial planning includes a complete evaluation of your financial situation from a legal risk perspective. You will have the opportunity to understand how to protect your assets to the extent allowed by law as well as understand what would happen to your assets if your filed bankruptcy.
Most bankruptcy work (outside of Chapter 11 cases and adversary proceedings) is charged on a fixed fee basis. TL rates range from $90 to $400 per hour for legal services from paralegals and attorneys.
Email and No “Free” Consultation
Frequently, TL is asked to answer a quick question by email. The difficulty is that a lawyer giving advice, whether through email or otherwise, has formed an attorney-client relationship with the person receiving the advice. The attorney needs to make sure he or she has no conflicts of interest and must have a record of the client and the advice.
There is also an expectation by some potential bankruptcy clients that lawyers will answer their questions in free consultations. Most bankruptcy questions require intimate knowledge of the client’s affairs and may involve unsettled areas of the law. It is not reasonable to expect a law firm to open a file, obtain the necessary facts, and then give free advice.
Recognizing the expectation of free advice, TL attempts to answer general questions about bankruptcy over the telephone. Due to the number of telephone calls, it is not always possible to spend the time requested by all potential clients. We have tried to provide answers to common questions on this web site. If you cannot find the information you need, send us an email request.
TL receives many requests for a short consultation with an attorney from a new potential client. To open a new file, we must go through a process of obtaining client background information, setting up the client and matter in our records, and preparing a written fee agreement. TL charges a $500 minimum fee to a new client, $175 of the $500 is allocated to setting up the client and file and the remainder is applied to billing at the firm’s rates as provided by the written fee agreement. Afterwards, the client is free to consult with TL attorneys in whatever time period is required. The $500 minimum fee is considered an earned retainer and is not placed in the firm’s trust account.
Chapter 7 – Consumer – $1,495 minimum fee
Chapter 7 – Business – $1,795 minimum fee
Chapter 7 is designed for individuals, corporations and partnerships in financial difficulty who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Under chapter 7 a trustee takes possession of all the debtor’s non-exempt property, liquidates it for cash and uses the proceeds to pay creditors according to priorities of the Bankruptcy Code. In Washington, the debtor may elect all the state exemptions or alternatively all the federal exemptions. In Oregon only state exemptions may be used.
The minimum fee for straightforward consumer bankruptcies is $1,495. TL charges $1795 for a routine Chapter 7 petition for businesses however there are often complexities that increase the fees. You are responsible for third party charges such as court filing, credit report, and credit counseling fees.
Chapter 13 – Consumer – $2,600 minimum fee
Chapter 13 – Business – $2,900 minimum fee
Chapter 13 enables individuals with regular incomes, under court supervision and protection, to repay their debts over an extended period of time according to a plan. The plan may call for full or partial repayment. The Bush Administration amended bankruptcy laws to attempt to make Chapter 13 the primary route for consumers. The changes made bankruptcy more difficult for consumers and more favorable for credit card companies.
TL charges $2,600 for a routine Chapter 13 consumer petition. Businesses have more complexity and cost more. You are responsible for third party charges such as court filing and credit counseling fees. Often Chapter 13’s (particularly for operating businesses) have complications and additional fees are charged by the hour. All fees must be reasonable and approved by the bankruptcy court.
Chapter 11 – $9,995 minimum fee
Chapter 11 allows a business to reorganize and restructure its finances so that it may continue to operate, provide employees with jobs, pay its creditors, and produce a return for its owners. While chapter 11 is primarily designed for a business it is also available to individuals. In a chapter 11 case the debtor proposes a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the court, will allow a debtor to reorganize. A debtor may also propose a plan of liquidation and cease doing business.
TL charges $2,500 for file a routine Chapter 11 petition. You are responsible for third party charges such as court filing and credit counseling fees. After the petition is filed, there are substantial ongoing monthly fees resulting from motions, work on the plan, dealing with creditors, and making monthly reports. Chapter 11’s involve operating businesses and have monthly reporting requirements and are often complicated. Additional fees are charged by the hour. All fees must be reasonable and approved by the bankruptcy court. Normally, a business filing bankruptcy does not have cash flow sufficient to pay future legal fees. That is why there is usually a large up-front fee for Chapter 11 cases.