Thinking About Using A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?
Many debtors believe they can’t afford to file bankruptcy; but at the same time they know that without bankruptcy they won’t have the power to protect their income and assets from aggressive creditors. Unfortunately, the solution they come up with is to take shortcuts. One of these shortcuts is working with a bankruptcy petition preparer instead of a bankruptcy attorney and then behaving as if there isn’t a difference. While it’s important to note that there are many reputable bankruptcy petition preparers out there, they cannot provide the type of legal support a bankruptcy attorney is obligated by law to provide.
A matter of fact, bankruptcy petition preparers are forbidden by law from offering a debtor any advice on their bankruptcy case. They can’t even advise a debtor on what type of bankruptcy they should file or whether or not they should file bankruptcy. They can only fill in the information on the bankruptcy form – that’s it. As you might have imagined, there is inherent dangers in this, especially for ordinary bankruptcy debtors who need the guidance of an attorney.
Dangers Facing Debtors Using Bankruptcy Petition Preparers:
Below are a few dangers facing debtors using bankruptcy petition preparers instead of attorneys:
Lack Of Advice
Bankruptcy petition preparers cannot offer any legal advice. Debtors facing garnishments, repossessions and foreclosures need the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. If the form is filled out incorrectly, it falls on the debtor whose case can be dismissed.
Lack Of Legal Support
Even if the filing goes well, oftentimes creditors come back on the backend and accuse the debtor of fraud, hiding assets or transferring assets before a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy petition preparer can’t advise a debtor on how to handle these challenges. Only a bankruptcy attorney can fight with creditors in a bankruptcy court.
Lack Of Guidance
Even in simple matters such as attending the 341 meeting (meeting of creditors) a bankruptcy petition preparer to barred from being present. Only the debtor’s bankruptcy attorney can sit with them during the meeting of creditors and only the attorney can advise the debtor on how to answer questions posed by the bankruptcy trustee and creditors.