What Rules Apply To Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
Anyone can be a bankruptcy petition preparer, as long as they comply with the rules for BPPs set out in the federal bankruptcy code. These rules include:
- describing themselves as debt relief agencies providing services under the federal bankruptcy code
- not using the term legal or any term that might lead you to believe they are providing legal services
- charging reasonable fees
- providing the contract mentioned above that describes their services and fees
- providing disclosure forms that summarize bankruptcy procedures
- including their name and tax ID number on all documents they prepare
- not collecting any bankruptcy court fees, and
- filing a disclosure with the court saying how much they charged you.
The rules apply only to professional BPPs. If a friend, for example, helps you fill out your papers, they dont have to meet these requirements.
The Perils Of Using A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
During the past several years, many firms have begun to advertise as “Bankruptcy Petition Preparers”. These preparers are not attorneys and cannot represent individuals before the United States Bankruptcy Court. Some courts have found that bankruptcy petition preparers may do no more than type a petition. These same courts have ruled that bankruptcy petition preparers may not charge more than $50.00 for the typing of a petition.
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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 its 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, its 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. Youll get solid advice on protecting assets and youll 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. Its 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 youd 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.
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How A Bankruptcy Attorney In New Jersey Could Help
If you are considering hiring a bankruptcy petition preparer service, first contact a bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options. A skilled attorney can provide an in-depth explanation of the dangers of bankruptcy petition preparer services in New Jersey before you expend the funds to engage their services.
- The Green State Law Firm
- 999 14th St. Ste. 999
- New Jersey, CA 999
Ways To Get Bankruptcy Help
There are several ways to learn about bankruptcy and generate bankruptcy forms.
Do It Yourself
Bankruptcy books and websites abound, providing both basic and detailed information on filing for bankruptcy. After reading the information, many people find that they are able to understand the basics of bankruptcy law and prepare the forms on their own.
Arming yourself with information will never be a waste. If you plan to use a bankruptcy petition preparer, youll have to read about and understand the whole process anyway. And even if you use a lawyer, it is still wise to understand the basics yourself.
Some good sources of self-help information are:
Self-help bankruptcy books. A good start is How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, by Stephen Elias, Albin Renauer, and Robin Leonard or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Repay Your Debts, by Stephen Elias and Robin Leonard .
Self-help websites. Try Nolos Bankruptcy Resource Center, which includes an online means test calculator, created by the author of Nolo’s book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Albin Renauer, J.D. Once you enter your zip code, the calculator uses the applicable income and expense standards for your state, county, and region to determine your eligibility.
Government websites. You can find the official bankruptcy forms in fill-in-the-blank PDF format at www.uscourts.gov.
Get Help From a Lawyer
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Why Spend More Than You Have To
Many lawyers who offer bankruptcy services do not charge fees upfront. Those that do may offer payment plans. Some dont charge anything until you get the results you need and want. This varies, but legal professionals at this level understand well that their clients who are experiencing bankruptcy dont usually have the cash on hand to pay exorbitant fees for their services.
When working with a third party like a paralegal or other petition preparer, you will always be charged a fee. Financing may be available and fees may be lower than they would be through your lawyer, but regardless of the results of your case, you will owe your preparer for their services. These fees also only cover the cost of paperwork preparation; remember, your petition preparer does nothing beyond that. Whats more, if something happens that causes you to have to work with a lawyer anyway, you will still owe your third-party petition preparer for their contribution regardless of how much or how little it was.
Why spend more than you have to? Why line the pockets of a professional who doesnt even make a meaningful contribution to the results of your case? If you want to save money as well as stress, choose a single professional to work with. Opt for a lawyer.
How To Use A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer To File Bankruptcy
If you are in the California Central District, the court offers a free online bankruptcy document preparation service. Keep in mind, neither a bankruptcy petition preparer nor a legal document assistant is an attorney. Additionally, neither is authorized to practice law. In fact, neither a bankruptcy petition preparer nor a legal document assistant may instruct or advise an individual about legal matters and may only prepare certain legal forms.
Furthermore, the federal bankruptcy rules do not allow a bankruptcy petition preparer to file a debtors bankruptcy paperwork with the court, nor file electronically. Therefore, anyone representing themselves in a bankruptcy case must present their paperwork in person with the court.
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Penalty For Persons Who Negligently Or Fraudulently Prepare Bankruptcy Petitions
In this section-
“bankruptcy petition preparer” means a person, other than an attorney for the debtor or an employee of such attorney under the direct supervision of such attorney, who prepares for compensation a document for filing; and
“document for filing” means a petition or any other document prepared for filing by a debtor in a United States bankruptcy court or a United States district court in connection with a case under this title.
A bankruptcy petition preparer who prepares a document for filing shall sign the document and print on the document the preparer’s name and address. If a bankruptcy petition preparer is not an individual, then an officer, principal, responsible person, or partner of the bankruptcy petition preparer shall be required to-
sign the document for filing; and
print on the document the name and address of that officer, principal, responsible person, or partner.
Before preparing any document for filing or accepting any fees from or on behalf of a debtor, the bankruptcy petition preparer shall provide to the debtor a written notice which shall be on an official form prescribed by the Judicial Conference of the United States in accordance with rule 9009 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.
The notice under subparagraph –
shall inform the debtor in simple language that a bankruptcy petition preparer is not an attorney and may not practice law or give legal advice;
be filed with any document for filing.
What Are You Getting From Your Petition Preparer
Using a petition preparer is basically like filing your bankruptcy petition yourself. It may amount to merely hiring a typist. They are not authorized to give you legal advice, and it is illegal for them to do so. They cannot answer your questions. They cannot tell you what exemptions you are entitled to. They cannot tell you what is likely to happen in your case.
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What Is A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
A bankruptcy petition preparer is any person or business, other than a lawyer or someone who works for a lawyer, that charges a fee to prepare bankruptcy documents. Under your direction and control, the bankruptcy petition preparer generates bankruptcy forms for you to file either by typing them or inputting information into a bankruptcy software program.
Because bankruptcy petition preparers are not attorneys, they cannot provide legal advice or represent you in bankruptcy court. This means that the bankruptcy petition preparer cannot:
- tell you which type of bankruptcy to file
- tell you not to list certain debts
- tell you not to list certain assets, or
- tell you what property to exempt.
In essence, you must understand what debts your bankruptcy will discharge, what will happen to your property in the bankruptcy, and what laws should be used to exempt your property from being taken for the benefit of your creditors.
In addition, you must file the bankruptcy papers yourself and represent yourself in court. In other words, you are responsible for your case. You act as your own attorney and use the bankruptcy petition preparer as a typing service that transposes the information you give them onto the official forms.
How Do I Become A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
Becoming a bankruptcy petition preparer allows you the ability to provide certain types of services to debtors. Petitions and related documents associated with bankruptcy cases–both consumer and commercial bankruptcies–are complicated. Many consumers want to avoid paying an attorney but do not have the desire to complete these materials on their own. Consequently, bankruptcy petition preparers are in high demand.
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Contact Our Ohio Bankruptcy Lawyers
Your situation and the bankruptcy process are more complicated than you probably think. We can help. Filing on your own, or pro se can be a very costly mistake. There are often complications and snags in many cases, but we are aware of them. We will help you prepare for and avoid problems.
Contact the bankruptcy attorneys at Debra Booher & Associates. We have the experience and exceptional service you need to get out of debt using the right options. Call or contact us online to get started.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
Bankruptcy Petition Preparers: What Is The Future
Consumer CornerJournal Article:
A number of reported decisions and anecdotal reports indicate that despite the efforts of Congress to curtail, if not eliminate, bankruptcy petition preparers , this “industry” continues to thrive. BPPs run the gamut from the single office to at least one franchise operation, with Internet operators offering both mail order and online services. Training for those interested in becoming BPPs is even offered on the Internet.
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Becoming A Bankruptcy Paralegal Or Petition Preparer
Bankruptcy Paralegals and Petition Preparers should have an eye for detail, the ability to work with numbers, basic math skills, excellent organizational skills, and the ability to track and meet deadlines. If this sounds like you and the skills and abilities you want to use in your paralegal career, you may want to consider becoming a bankruptcy paralegal or petition preparer.
If you are interested in preparing bankruptcy petitions for the public, you may want to start your own freelance Bankruptcy Petition Preparation service. You can use the forms provided by the US Bankruptcy Court in combination with a pdf service, such as PDFescape, that allows you to save and edit your completed schedules and exhibits, or you can purchase petition preparation software such as Best Case or Bankruptcy 2013. If you have never prepared a bankruptcy petition before, you may want to read the Courts website for more information and instructions. The best place to start is the Bankruptcy Basics page. If you are still unsure about which forms, schedules, and exhibits you will need to complete, consider purchasing petition preparation software, which will sort out the forms for you, based on the information you enter. Many states cap the amount that a non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparer may charge for his or her services, so you will also want to check your state laws concerning fees and the maximum amount you may charge for petition preparation and related services.
Lower The Cost Of Bankruptcies By Allowing Petitioners Or Bankruptcy Petition Preparers To File Petitions
Tax law is far more complicated than bankruptcy laws, so if tax preparers do not need a college degree or legal degree to help other people with taxes, why should educational requirements be any greater than necessary to help people with their bankruptcy cases? Tax preparers do have certain educational requirements, but these requirements are courses that specifically teach what is necessary to prepare most people’s taxes.
The IRS and most states now allow tax filers to file taxes directly online. So why not allow bankruptcy petitioners to file directly online? Most bankruptcy petitions are simple, so most people with uncomplicated bankruptcies, such as no-asset cases, could easily fill out the forms themselves, especially if the forms were designed to ask the pertinent questions and to do any required calculations, such as for the means test.
For those who do not want to file for bankruptcy themselves, they can hire BPP’s who have enough training to successfully complete most cases. Although attorneys often argue that the unauthorized practice of law statutes exist to protect the consumer, more often than not, they protect the income of the attorneys, increasing prices for legal services. Indeed, legal secretaries complete most of the bankruptcy filings for the attorney’s clients, because most bankruptcy cases, to administer successfully, do not require the 4 years of college and 3 years of law school required of bankruptcy lawyers.
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Wisconsin Courts Crack Down On Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
On behalf of Debt Advisors, S.C.
If you live in Wisconsin and are considering enlisting the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer to help with your bankruptcy petition, you might want to think again. Due to the poor quality of their work and shady business practices, bankruptcy judges are cracking down on bankruptcy preparation services.
Court Angered by Unscrupulous Preparers
Wisconsin bankruptcy judges say that there have been many instances where bankruptcy petition preparation services have done a very poor job with bankruptcy filings. One filing was so lacking that the bankruptcy filers name was listed incorrectly on the petition and required paperwork was missing, causing the judge to reject the bankruptcy petition.
In other instances, some petition preparers charged their clients preparation fees, but did not complete the work that they were supposed to do. There have also been instances where the preparer overcharged their client. Despite the fact that courts have ordered preparers to issue refunds for overcharged clients, many preparers have not complied.
Angered by the problems the petition preparers have caused, Wisconsin judges have responded by imposing fines and holding some preparers in contempt of court. In addition, judges have capped the maximum fee preparers can charge at $75. Court officials say that tough economic times have made people down on their luck easy prey for unscrupulous petition preparers.
A Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
Bankruptcy Petition Preparer Guidelines
The following are guidelines concerning the conduct and compensation of bankruptcy petition preparers ) who are not attorneys and who assist debtors in filing voluntary bankruptcy petitions , or in preparing any papers filed in connection with such cases in this court. These guidelines are issued pursuant to B.L.R. 9029-1.
1. The maximum allowable charge for a bankruptcy petition preparer’s services is $150, including any and all expenses such as photocopying, messenger or courier charges, postage, telephone, etc. This fee does not include the filing fee that must be paid to the clerk of the bankruptcy court; the debtor is to make that payment directly to the court.
- 2. If any money has been paid or any property transferred by the debtor to the bankruptcy petition preparer within one year of the filing of the bankruptcy petition, the court’s filing fees may not be paid in installments.
3. The bankruptcy petition preparer is not an attorney and is not authorized to practice law. Specifically, the bankruptcy petition preparer may not instruct or advise the debtor:
i. Whether to file a bankruptcy petition
Fps Is A Debt Relief Agency
As we’re on the road to recovery, the need for affordable debt relief services is growing. FPS believes everyone should have access to affordable and professional services and aims to meet those needs.
We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code. 11 U.S. Code § 528.
FPS has earned its positive reputation because we go out of our way to provide truly exceptional service to each of our clients. We understand that your needs can change last minute, and were ready to adapt our services quickly to ensure your success. Call today to learn more about what we can do for you.
472-2622 or 525-7866
What Is The Difference Between A Petition Preparer And An Attorney
The difference between a Petition Preparer and an Attorney is clearly summed up in the old adage, you get what you pay for. Cost is often the most important factor for people when deciding to hire a lawyer. However, many people do not realize that the cost of having your case done incorrectly is often times worse than the cost. Having your case done wrong cannot often be fixed. Here are the explanations of, pros, and cons of petition preparers and attorneys.
A Petition Preparer is often a paralegal or a notary who will help you complete forms for your case. A Petition Preparer is NOT an attorney. Petition preparers are often used for divorce, bankruptcy, and immigration cases. The petition preparer will prepare your paperwork based on information that you provide to them.
Pros: Petition preparers may charge a fee for preparing documents and it is often much less than an attorney would charge. A petition preparer can assist you if you know what you need to do, but you are not good with computers or technology. Petition preparers are limited to filling out forms.
An Attorney is a licensed professional who has a bachelors degree and a law degree from an accredited law school. They also passed a standardized bar exam for the state that they practice in. A Florida attorney is also regulated by The Florida Bar, which sets forth rules and requirements of how a lawyer should behave, handle clients, and handle clients property and cases.
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Bankruptcy Legal Document Preparation In New York
Final Order or Discharge in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is designed for debtors in financially difficult situations who do not have the ability to pay their existing debts. Over 1 million people file for personal Bankruptcy every year. The most common personal filing for Bankruptcy is done under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. We The People of NY provides the legal document assistance to help make the filing for Bankruptcy process without an attorney as affordable and stress free as possible. If your situation is fairly simple this will save you enormous money.Bankruptcy laws differ state to state, however, every state has laws to protect certain property, such as clothing, household items, money in qualified retirement plans, your car and your house .
Should You Use A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer
If you need clerical help — not legal help — a bankruptcy petition preparer can produce your bankruptcy court forms for a reasonable fee.
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When deciding whether to hire a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer , the most important thing to remember is that a BPP is not a lawyer and cant provide any legal advice about your bankruptcy. To make this perfectly clear, federal bankruptcy law requires that BPPs give you a contract that includes all the things theyre not allowed to do and all the topics they cant discuss. The form primarily covers anything that might be considered legal advice, including:
- whether you should file for bankruptcy
- which type of bankruptcy to file
- whether your bankruptcy case will be successful
- what kind of property you will or wont get to keep
- whether to list certain items of property or how to describe your property, or
- whether you should promise to repay debts to any of your creditors.
That said, if you need the equivalent of clerical help with your forms, a bankruptcy petition preparer can produce the forms you need for a reasonable fee. A good BPP will have the necessary forms and software to do this job quickly and efficiently. But for legal information and advice, you must look elsewhere.
Beware Of Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
Every now and then, a debtor will appear in bankruptcy court on a case that is set to be dismissed. The nervous debtor will stand at the podium, and the judge will ask the debtor why he or she has not filed certain required papers within the time prescribed by the Bankruptcy Code. The debtor will likely appear flustered, I dont know, Judge. The judge will ask some more questions, and the debtor will often reveal that he or she does not have an attorney, but rather has paid a non-attorney bankruptcy petition preparer a non-trivial sum of money to help them file for bankruptcy.
Unfortunately, in many of these cases, the judge will have no choice but to dismiss the debtors case because various statutory requirements have not been satisfied. The debtor will inevitably be very disappointed, as he or she will not receive a discharge of their debts or a refund of their filing fee.
Needing to file for bankruptcy can be an overwhelming experience. Hiring a BPP instead of a bankruptcy lawyer in order to save money may seem like a good idea. While it is not illegal to hire a BPP, it is not always wise. Section 110 of the Bankruptcy Code explicitly allows for debtors to hire non-attorney BPPs to type their petition and schedules. 11 U.S.C. § 110. There are some very specific limitations and disclosure requirements for BPPs. 11 U.S.C. § 110-.
Are They Holding Themselves Out As Attorneys
It is illegal for non attorneys to give legal advice. That concerns them, but as for you, what if you get bad and incorrect advice? We have seen this too often. For example, you may file under Chapter 7 only to arrive at a meeting with the bankruptcy trustee to find your house will be sold, or be directed to convert to Chapter 13 with the immediate assistance of a lawyer. Bankruptcy trustees represent your creditors, and they are in a very awkward position if you have not proceeded with good advice.
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