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What is a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?

Bankruptcy PreparerBankruptcy Petition Preparer

When you file for bankruptcy you are required to file a bankruptcy petition with the court. Most people do so with the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney or bankruptcy petition preparer.

Basically, the petition is your bankruptcy application and it tells the court about your debts and assets. Bankruptcy petitions can be complicated depending on your specific circumstances and it’s best to have someone familiar with the bankruptcy process help you complete your petition.

But does that need to be a bankruptcy attorney or can a so-called “Bankruptcy Petition Preparer” provide the assistance you need?

Who Can Help You File for Bankruptcy?

You have a few options available for submitting your information to the court when filing for bankruptcy:

  • You can do it yourself. Just as you would be free to represent yourself in other legal matters in court, you can represent yourself when filing for bankruptcy. And just as it’s usually a mistake when dealing with other matters, it tends to be a mistake when filing for bankruptcy. Unless you have extensive legal training related to bankruptcy, it’s always smarter to work with a professional.
  • You can work with a bankruptcy attorney. He or she has spent extensive time studying bankruptcy law and knows how to help you file efficiently and effectively. You’ll get solid advice on protecting assets and you’ll have support from the moment you decide to file right through until your bankruptcy is complete.
  • You can work with a bankruptcy preparer. Bankruptcy petition preparers prepare and file bankruptcy paperwork on behalf of people filing for bankruptcy. They use software to make filling out and filing petitions efficient. It’s similar to tax preparers in that they ask you questions, you answer, and they plug those answers into the system. In most cases, bankruptcy preparers have some legal training and might be paralegals or law students, but are not lawyers.

If you’d like to know more about what specific training bankruptcy petition preparers have to help them with their job, check out this information from Legal Beagle.

Bankruptcy preparers help you with paperwork, but their support doesn’t extend beyond this initial stage.

They are merely helping you fill out your petition. You’ll still be the one filing it and you’ll be representing yourself in bankruptcy court. You’ll also need to determine for yourself which chapter of bankruptcy is best for you. Then you must figure out how to handle the more complicated aspects of bankruptcy.

Why a Bankruptcy Attorney is a Better Investment than a Bankruptcy Preparer

Working with a bankruptcy attorney is going to cost you more than it costs to work with a bankruptcy preparer. You’ll pay the preparer a fee upfront to fill out your bankruptcy paperwork, but it will be less than what you’ll pay an attorney over time to fully support your case.

Is the additional investment worth it? For most people, the answer is “yes, absolutely.”

A bankruptcy attorney is by your side from the very beginning before you even commit to filing. He or she can review your financial situation and offer advice on whether to file. If you choose to file, he or she can recommend what chapter bankruptcy is best for you. He or she will help you prepare your bankruptcy petition, just like the bankruptcy petition preparer. But a bankruptcy attorney offers a great deal more guidance and legal advice throughout the process.

Your bankruptcy attorney will continue to represent you throughout the entire process. He or she will assist you in completing the necessary education requirements and help you deal with any creditor issues. This support is extremely valuable if any of your creditors dispute the discharge of your debt.

Working with an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney

If you’re looking to truly have assistance throughout the bankruptcy process, you need more than a bankruptcy preparer. You need an attorney familiar with the bankruptcy to help you with the details of your case.

Working with a bankruptcy attorney is one of the best ways to increase the chances your filing process will go smoothly. If you’d like to learn more or you want to speak to someone about moving forward with your decision to file for bankruptcy, contact the Law Office of Robert M. Geller at 813-254-5696 to discuss your situation.

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T: (813) 254-5696
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