In order for debtors and their attorneys to understand their rights and responsibilities in the bankruptcy process, the San Diego Bankruptcy Court developed this document spelling it out.
The following terms of engagement are hereby agreed to by the parties.
Nothing in this agreement should be construed to excuse an attorney from any ethical duties or responsibilities under Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9011 and the Local Bankruptcy Rules.
Services Included in the Initial Fee Charged
The following are services that an attorney must provide as part of the initial fee charged for representation in a Chapter 7 case:
I. 1. Meet with the debtor to review the debtor’s assets, liabilities, income and expenses.
2. Analyze the debtor’s financial situation, and render advice to the debtor in determining whether to file a petition in bankruptcy.
3. Describe the purpose, benefits, and costs of the Chapters the debtor may file, counsel the debtor regarding the advisability of filing either a Chapter 7, 11, or 13 case, and answer the debtor’s questions.
4. Advise the debtor of the requirement to attend the § 341 (a) Meeting of Creditors, and instruct the debtor as to the date, time and place of the meeting.
5. Advise the debtor of the necessity of maintaining liability, collision and comprehensive insurance on vehicles securing loans or leases.
6. Timely prepare, file and serve the debtor’s petition, plan, schedules, statement of financial affairs, and any necessary amendments to Schedule C, which may be required.
7. Provide documents pursuant to the Trustee Guidelines and any other information requested by the Chapter 7 Trustee or the Office of the United State Trustee.
8. Provide an executed copy of the Rights and Responsibilities of Chapter 7 Debtors and their Attorneys to the debtor.
9. Appear and represent the debtor at the § 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and any continued meeting, except as further set out in Section II.
10. File the Certificate of Debtor Education.
11. Attorney shall have a continuing obligation to assist the debtor by returning telephone calls, answering questions and reviewing and sending correspondence.
II. Services Included as Part of the Attorney Representation,
But May Require an Additional Fee
The following are additional services, included as part of the representation of the debtor, but for which the attorney may charge additional fees.
1. Representation at any continued meeting of creditors due to client’s failure to appear or failure to provide required documents or acceptable identification;
2. Amendments (other than Schedule C);
3. Opposing Motions for Relief from Stay;
4. Reaffirmation Agreements and hearings on Reaffirmation Agreements;
5. Redemption Agreements and hearings on Redemption Agreements;
6. Preparing, filing, or objecting to Proofs of Claims, when appropriate, and if applicable;
7. Representation in a Motion to Dismiss or Convert debtor’s case;
8. An audit of the debtor’s case conducted by the United States Department of Justice.
Services Not Included as Part of The Initial Fee, No Attorney Representation; additional Services to Be Negotiated By a Separate Fee Agreement
The following services are not included as part of the representation in a Chapter 7 case, unless the attorney and debtor negotiate representation in these post-filing matters at mutually agreed upon terms in advance of any obligation of the attorney to render services. The debtor will not be represented by the attorney in these matters:
1. Defense of a Complaint to determine dischargeability of a debt;
2. Defense of a Complaint objecting to discharge;
3. Objections to Claim of Exemption, except where an objection arises due to an error on Schedule C;
4. Sheriff levy releases;
5. Section 522(f) Lien Avoidance Motions;
6. Opposing a request for, or appearing at, a 2004 examination;
7. Motions to Buy, Sell, Refinance Real or other Property.
IV. Duties and Responsibilities of the Debtor
As the debtor filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must:
1. Fully disclose everything you own, lease, or otherwise believe you have a right or interest in prior to filing the case;
2. List everyone to whom you owe money, including your friends, relatives or someone you want to repay after the bankruptcy is filed;
3. Provide accurate and complete financial information;
4. Provide all requested information and documentation in a timely manner, in accordance with the Chapter 7 Trustee Guidelines;
5. Cooperate and communicate with your attorney;
6. Discuss the objectives of the case with your attorney before you file;
7. Keep the attorney updated with any changes in contact information;
8. Keep the attorney updated on any and all collection activities by any creditor, including lawsuits, judgments, garnishments, levies and executions on debtor’s property;
9. Keep the attorney updated on any changes in the household income and expenses;
10. Timely file all required tax returns;
11. Inform the attorney if there are any pending lawsuits or rights to pursue any lawsuits;
12. Appear at the Section 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and any continued Meeting of Creditors;
13. Bring proof of social security number and government issued photo identification to the Section 341(a) Meeting of Creditors;
14. Provide date-of-filing bank statements to the attorney no later than 7 days after filing of your case;
15. Pay all required fees prior to the filing of the case;
16. Promptly pay all required fees in the event post filing fees are incurred;
17. Debtors must not direct, compel or demand their attorney to take a legal position or oppose a motion in violation of any Ethical Rule, any Rule of Professional Conduct, or Federal Rule that is not well grounded in fact or law.