Beware of Discount Bankruptcy Lawyers!
As a Denver bankruptcy lawyer who files numerous chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases in Colorado Bankruptcy Court annually, the Law Office of David M. Serafin strives to ensure its rates are always appropriate. The inevitable question always asked of attorney David M. Serafin by a client is “how much does bankruptcy cost?” A quick perusal of online ads or simply typing the term “Denver Bankruptcy Attorney” or “Colorado Bankruptcy Lawyer” into Google or Yahoo reveals a minority of attorneys advertising a quick bankruptcy for as low as $399 or $499.
Ever hear the phrase that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is?” If so, you’ll quickly learn that you get what you pay for with lawyers, as with any business deal in general.
Here’s why: anybody (petition preparers or “mills”) can prepare a petition or plug in numbers. What an experienced Denver bankruptcy lawyer is primarily paid for is to analyze all aspects of the client’s financial situation in relation to the client’s objectives. A single mistake can be catastrophic and cost you several times as much money as what you’re paying to any lawyer.
For instance, we recently were retained by a debtor who was initially advised by another lawyer to file for chapter 7 a bit pre-maturely. As a result, he was unable to discharge about $20,000 in taxes owed to the state of Colorado. Waiting 2 more months (and there was little creditor harassment justifying a quick filing) would have allowed for a full discharge of these taxes.
Another recent filer in Colorado hired a discount lawyer (who typically only “quick file” chapter 7 cases and are inexperienced in handling more complex chapter 13 matters) only to learn that the case had not been filed and creditors notified in time to stave off foreclosure. The client subsequently lost his house.
We have also witnessed unprepared filers, represented by discount attorneys who leave little time to walk their clients through the full process, being excoriated and embarrassed at the 341 meeting of creditors by the chapter 7 trustee, and forced to turn over property they could have kept through more effective planning. Other times, the attorney will not even return phone calls or address issues which may arise after the 341 hearing but before the case is closed.
Most of my clients who have initially consulted with a discount lawyer before coming into my office complain about the lawyer not spending enough time to answer their questions, may only meet with a paralegal or assistant, or have felt subjected to a “bait and switch” deviation from what they initially thought they were getting. The Law Office of David M. Serafin believes in being fully honest and transparent with potential and actual clients at all times.
Of course, you would not be considering bankruptcy if not in financial trouble, so funds are tight. Also, there are some circumstances in which a discount lawyer may be the best option. If you are unemployed, have no home or car, and no have spouse or dependents, there may be a chance that spending much less for representation will work out. But attorney David M. Serafin staunchly believes the overwhelming majority of bankruptcy debtors require at least some type of strategic advice fully to protect their financial interests. As such, it’s certainly your choice to retain a discount bankruptcy lawyer and no problems may in fact surface but retaining counsel who charges less than a reasonable fee is a risk you take.
An experienced Denver bankruptcy lawyer with a Master’s Degree in Taxation, attorney David M. Serafin is singularly qualified to best represent a diverse range of individual and small business clients in bankruptcy. In this down economy, many clients owe taxes and penalties after having taken a premature distribution from a retirement plan just to make ends meet and, accordingly, need accurate legal advice.
Other clients owe either income or employment tax debts to the IRS and/or state of Colorado that we can address within the context of chapter 7 or chapter 13 filing. The Law Office of David M. Serafin also specifically advises clients (regardless of whether they own a business) regarding income tax withholding and how to legally spend down an impending tax refund prior to filing for bankruptcy. And you’ll be hard pressed to obtain any of these services from a discount lawyer.