The Pitfalls Of Hiring a Petition Preparer

So you’ve decided to file for bankruptcy, and of course you want to proceed in the most cost-effective way possible. Experienced bankruptcy attorney cost money. You may have heard of a bankruptcy petition preparer, and you probably wondering if one might help you streamline your case.

Although a petition preparer may be cheaper than an attorney, the bottom line is that a petition preparer can only provide one service that is typing out forms under your direction. Thus, if you are unsure about the bankruptcy process, or have any other issue or questions pertaining to your bankruptcy, a petition preparer cannot help you, as the preparer is legally prohibited from providing any legal advice or representing you in court.

Should I hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney or a petition preparer?

There are a few things you should consider when making a decision about filing bankruptcy and whether you wish to hire an attorney or a petition preparer to assist you therewith. Some of these factors are as follows:

Complexity of bankruptcy laws

Complex federal and state laws govern the U.S Bankruptcy Court. These laws determine whether your case is accepted and what type of debt relief you may qualify for. A petition preparer may not necessarily have the requisite legal training or training in the specifics of bankruptcy law.

Important pre-filing bankruptcy decisions

Apart from other decisions you may have to make in relation to your bankruptcy, you have to find out before you file your case of which type of personal bankruptcy will best suit the circumstances of your case, a petition preparer cannot assist you with this.

Avoidance of bankruptcy fraud 

It will be very painful to have your case dismissed for bankruptcy fraud. Since bankruptcy law is so complex, an innocent and bone fide filer may accidentally break the law, and face a steep fine or even jail time. Obtaining the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney may help safeguard against such disaster, as bankruptcy attorney are trained in the field.

Deadlines and paperwork filings 

Paperwork, in some cases are expected to be submitted after the initial petition, which means meeting several deadlines and completing legal forms correctly. With the assistance of an attorney, you will be able to stay on track with the courts timeline that may make a difference between having your petition accepted and have it rejected.

Will hiring a bankruptcy petition preparer save me money?

Filing a bankruptcy petition costs money, whether you work with an attorney, by yourself or with someone else. While working with a petition preparer may save you a bit of money, petition preparers do not have to be licensed in any way and are prohibited from giving filers legal advice. By contrast, an attorney must be licensed to practice in their state and can represent a filer during the proceedings.

For the reasons highlighted above, it is recommended that you hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney as opposed to a petition preparer to file your bankruptcy.