A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer is a non-attorney who prepares for a fee bankruptcy documents. Lets break this down. (1) A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer is not an attorney. In fact, most have no legal training. (2) He or she cannot give legal advice. (3) He or she charges a fee. (4) He or she types documents: They cannot give advice.
So basically, a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer is supposed to be a typist. The law allowing for Bankruptcy Petition Preparer was written at a time when no one had personal computers and few knew how to type. Perhaps you would have needed that neighbor who had a typewriter to help you out. Times change.
The problem with a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer is that they actually do give legal advice, without knowing what he or she is talking about. A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer did not go to law school. He or she does not have any specialized training, but their customers rely on the advice to deal with thousands of dollars of debt and safeguard a filer's home and cars. I have seen it many times. Individuals who use Bankruptcy Petition Preparer having significant troubles getting his or her cases discharged, or even losing homes, cars, tax refunds, and other property.
What's more is that there is little oversight over Bankruptcy Petition Preparer. Sure, the worst ones can get sanctioned by a Bankruptcy Judge, but most just continue as if nothing ever happened using a family members name. So, dangerous Bankruptcy Petition Preparer who are barred from filing because due to incompetence continue to take advantage of vulnerable people by hiding his or her identity.
Right now it is legal to use Bankruptcy Petition Preparer, but it is very risky. Even the most basic Bankruptcy can have hidden issues that only an attorney can see before its too late. If you want competent representation, call the attorneys at Croke & Croke and let us help you get your bankruptcy done right.
For more information, see these two government documents that explain issues surrounding Bankruptcy Petition Preparers:
Justice Department Report on Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
US Courts Report: Increased Use of Bankruptcy Petition Preparers Raises Concerns - June 18, 2012