Yesterday the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Michigan in Grand Rapids issued a ruling which struck a blow to bankruptcy attorneys who regularly monitor and maintain their Chapter 13 cases. While I strongly disagree with the Court’s ruling, I will respect and abide by the decision. For those interested, you can read the decision here: http://www.miwb.uscourts.gov/sites/miwb/files/opinions/098016816035.pdf
At Mapes Law Offices one of the things that makes us different than other bankruptcy attorneys in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and Kalamazoo is that we regularly monitor the status of our chapter 13 bankruptcy cases to make sure that they are progressing properly and everything is going smoothly. We make sure that payments are properly made, that the trustee is properly administering payments, and that creditors are not trying to pull a fast one and get paid when they should not. Quite a bit happens on a monthly basis, that in itself is a rather small event, but could become a large problem if not caught early.
Yesterday the Court ruled that we cannot charge to monitor cases on a regular basis unless there are problems in the case that warrant it. I believe that monitoring in all cases is necessary to ensure that the cases do not become problem cases. The monthly charge for monitoring the cases would be roughly $35 per month to make sure things go smoothly. This does not mean that clients would have to pay extra, one of the great things about chapter 13 cases is that your attorney fees can come out of what the unsecured creditors would otherwise get. Basically, if your creditors were getting ten cents on the dollar, and your bankruptcy attorney submitted a petition to be paid more, your creditors would get eight cents on the dollar, but you would not have to pay any more than you were beforehand.
As a bankruptcy attorney, I believe it is my duty to make sure my client doesn’t need to worry about their case. When you choose our office to be your bankruptcy attorney I want your problems to become our problems, so you can stop worrying about money and get back to living your life. So despite the Court’s ruling, we will continue to monitor your cases though we will not be paid for it. Ultimately, your success is the most important thing, and as your bankruptcy attorney we will do everything in our power to make sure that you get a fresh start, that you can stop worrying about creditors, and that you can get your life back on track.
I didn’t choose to become a bankruptcy attorney for the money, I chose to become a bankruptcy attorney because I wanted to help the people in Grand Rapids where I grew up, I wanted to help the families I met in Kalamazoo when I was in college, and pay back the people in Lansing that helped me make my way through law school. You deserve the absolute best representation from your bankruptcy attorney, and that is exactly what you will get from our office, even if we don’t get paid for it.
— Jeffrey D. Mapes