Bankruptcy petition preparers
Sometimes people who need to file bankruptcy want to know if a bankruptcy petition preparer will be able to help them file their bankruptcy. A bankruptcy petition preparer is not an attorney and is forbidden by federal law to give legal advice. Essentially, they are typists. All they are permitted under federal law to do is to type up the forms. If you’re going to file bankruptcy, you probably will only do it once in your life. You need to get it right the first time. If you make a mistake, it can cost you dearly. And, if you are using an attorney, the attorney is liable, by law, to fix any problems or compensate you for any loss you may incur if something goes wrong. Not so with the petition preparer. You are really on your own with a petition preparer, who has no liability, no insurance to protect you.
Anyone who is thinking about bankruptcy is facing a serious financial emergency. Often, there is the threat of lawsuits and garnishments, loss of property, even your home. When faced with significant and serious legal difficulties, it doesn’t make any sense to try to be your own lawyer. And, trusting a bankruptcy preparer to prepare your bankruptcy when they are forbidden by law to give you legal advice can be a fatal mistake.
I have seen, repeatedly, consumers who file their own bankruptcy case using a bankruptcy petition preparer lose property, have their cases dismissed, and end up having to start all over again. Often, after failing one or more times, they end up hiring a bankruptcy attorney anyway.
I suggest, if you are thinking about using a bankruptcy petition preparer, that you pause and think about a few things. First of all, what are your options? Do you really need to file bankruptcy? Would it be a better idea to talk to a counselor who is a consumer credit counselor, certified debt arbitrator, and board-certified bankruptcy attorney? (of course it would be!)
Because I am certified in both non-bankruptcy and bankruptcy solutions, I’ll often uncover and tell people who think they need to file bankruptcy about options they did not even consider. Sometimes there are ways to resolve difficult financial situations without filing bankruptcy.
And, if bankruptcy is the right option, you should know, and any good credit counselor will tell you, that bankruptcy alone will not solve all of your problems. A bankruptcy discharge, whether you file it with the assistance of the bankruptcy petition preparer, file yourself, or use the services of an attorney, will not help you rebuild credit, and will not help you correct the errors that are often left on your credit report after a bankruptcy discharge is granted.
If you’re thinking about using the services of the bankruptcy petition preparer, you should recognize the significant limitations on what they can and cannot do for you. Essentially, they are typists. They can type the petition but that’s all they’re allowed to do. If you need actual legal assistance and advice, the bankruptcy petition preparer is not permitted, by law, to give you legal advice. And if they do offer advice, you need to ask yourself why you are dealing with a person who would knowingly violate the law.