In both chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy there is a meeting of creditors, also called a 341 meeting after the section of the Bankruptcy Code that establishes this event. In practice, it’s common to see one, maybe 2, pro se (people filing without an attorney; self-represented) filers in a chapter 7 bankruptcy meeting of creditors. However, I recently saw 4 pro se filers on a single chapter 13 bankruptcy meeting of creditors calendar in Santa Rosa.
Why Pro Se Petitioners In Chapter 13 Is Concerning
People filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney is concerning for a number of reasons. First, chapter 13 bankruptcy is quite complicated. It requires filing a confirmable chapter 13 plan which itself is difficult but also requires motions throughout the 3-5 year case. Few self-represented pro se filers are equipped to file motions much less a confirmable plan.
The second cause for concern is why so many people are deciding to file chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney. Are there so few affordable bankruptcy attorneys in Santa Rosa that 4 petitioners gave up and filed chapter 13 by themselves? Is there a bankruptcy petition preparer (a non-attorney) helping people who really need an attorney prepare chapter 13 petitions that have no hope of being successful?
How Much Santa Rosa Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorneys Cost
It’s true that Santa Rosa bankruptcy attorneys charge more for chapter 13 bankruptcy than they do for chapter 7 bankruptcy. The reason lies in the added paperwork, court appearances, and duration of representation. Simply put, chapter 7 bankruptcy requires less paperwork, only 1 appearance at the meeting of creditors, and is over in a few months. In contrast, chapter 13 bankruptcy requires more paperwork, several appearances, and lasts 3 to 5 years.
While Santa Rosa bankruptcy attorneys do charge more for chapter 13 than chapter 7, their total fees usually align with the No Look Fee Guidelines set by the Bankruptcy Court. Better yet, most bankruptcy attorneys only charge a percentage of that total fee before filing the petition, opting to earn the rest of the fee through the chapter 13 repayment plan. As a result, few clients are asked for the entire “No Look” fee before filing.