If you are reading this post, it is likely that you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy and you are not alone. For most people, filing bankruptcy should not be a do-it yourself process. Working with an experienced bankruptcy attorney can help ensure the process is as quick and painless as possible. When you decide to file bankruptcy the attorney you hire will have you review and sign a retainer agreement.
Read on to learn more about this legal agreement and what it usually contains.
What is a Retainer?
A retainer agreement is a contract for legal services signed by you and your attorney. The purpose of the agreement is to memorialize in writing the terms and conditions of the attorney’s representation of your bankruptcy case.
What Should a Retainer Include?
Scope of Representation
The retainer should outline the scope of the representation; such as whether you are hiring the attorney to file a Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Additionally, it is important to understand what is and is not included in the representation.
Fees and Costs
At a minimum, the retainer should include the attorney fees and a projection of the bankruptcy costs that you will need to pay. (The attorney fees are paid to the attorney him/herself and the bankruptcy filing fee is paid directly to the court). Many attorneys charge a flat fee for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy case, which is generally payable before the bankruptcy case is filed with the Court. If your attorney does not charge a flat fee, then you will need to carefully read and understand the part of the retainer that discusses the attorney’s hourly fee-such as how it is calculated, when you will be billed, etc.
Responsibilities of Attorney and Client
Retainer agreements also should outline the responsibilities of both the attorney and the client. For example, it is the client’s responsibility to provide the attorney with the documents needed to prepare and file the bankruptcy. It is the attorney’s responsibility to prepare the petition and to answer the client’s questions and concerns. Make certain that the attorney will be representing you at the 341 meeting of creditors.
Many retainer agreements also outline which other attorneys or support staff in the law office may assist your primary attorney with your case. It is pretty standard for staff (including secretaries, assistants, and paralegals) to assist an attorney with administrative tasks such as copying, filing documents with the court, and managing the attorney’s schedule. However, you should think twice about a retainer agreement that requires a client to only contact an administrative staff member and not the attorney.
We Can Help You Get a Fresh Start
It is essential that you understand what the retainer agreement says and what it means. If you do not understand it, have the attorney fully explain it to you. If the agreement requires you to do certain things such as providing certain documents or notifying the attorney of any financial changes, you want to be aware of them so you know what is expected of you. Before you retain a bankruptcy lawyer, it is important to read and understand the retainer agreement before you sign it. You should keep a copy of the signed retainer agreement for your records. If you are interested in learning how filing a bankruptcy case can benefit you, contact Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., at (973) 323-2953. You can also reach us by filling out our online form. We represent debtors in Chapter 7, Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 filings. Let us help you get the fresh financial start you need today.
We are proudly designated as a debt relief agency by an Act of Congress. We have proudly assisted consumers in filing for Bankruptcy Relief for over 30 years. The information on this website and blogs is for general information purposes only. Nothing should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.