The better question you should ask is – “What is a bankruptcy petition preparer?” Got a typewriter? Got some paper bankruptcy forms? Put the two together and you have a bankruptcy petition preparer.
Current federal law requires attorneys to advise you at your first consult that you do not need an attorney to file bankruptcy. At its lowest level, that’s true. Anyone can fill out the forms, all you need is a typewriter. But what do you put where on those forms? Your typewriter can’t tell you that. And neither can a bankruptcy petition preparer.
Only an attorney can give render legal advice. That means that an attorney can help you figure out what the benefit might be in treating one type of asset one way or treating it in another way in a bankruptcy case. Only an attorney can tell you which asset is exempt (meaning – you get to keep it) versus non-exempt (which means you lose it). Only a person licensed to practice law in your state can tell you if a certain debt is dischargeable or not. If a bankruptcy petition preparer tells you what is exempt or what is dischargeable then that person is practicing law without a license.
The Department of Justice has posted a warning about the use of bankruptcy petition preparers and many Bankruptcy Courts have posted rules on what bankruptcy petition preparers can and cannot do. Remember, you get what you pay for. Is it worth saving money on a proceeding such as bankruptcy? Hire a qualified lawyer to work on your case.
Last modified: November 19, 2013