Should I Hire A Bankruptcy Petition Preparer?

From FY 05-11, a total of 2,529 formal actions were filed by the U.S. Trustee Program against bankruptcy petition preparers under 11 U.S.C. § 110. Formal actions include all motions, complaints, and objections filed by Program personnel with the bankruptcy court seeking some type of relief. For FY 05-11, the success rate was 98.5 percent. Success rate is defined as the total number of formal actions where the court granted some or all of the relief sought or the defendant agreed to relief satisfactory to the U.S. Trustees, divided by the total number of formal actions adjudicated or satisfactorily resolved prior to adjudication. Source: US Trustee Program Enforcement Activity, FY 05-11, Annual Data Tables.

From FY 05-11, a total of 2,529 formal actions were filed by the U.S. Trustee Program against bankruptcy petition preparers under 11 U.S.C. § 110. Formal actions include all motions, complaints, and objections filed by Program personnel with the bankruptcy court seeking some type of relief. For FY 05-11, the success rate was 98.5 percent. Success rate is defined as the total number of formal actions where the court granted some or all of the relief sought or the defendant agreed to relief satisfactory to the U.S. Trustees, divided by the total number of formal actions adjudicated or satisfactorily resolved prior to adjudication. Source: US Trustee Program Enforcement Activity, FY 05-11, Annual Data Tables.

It is no surprise that most people want to receive the best deal that they can get, whether they are buying a car, a home or are looking for a bankruptcy lawyer. Much like buying any other goods or services, most of the time you get what you pay for. As an example, there are some companies out there that market themselves as bankruptcy petition preparers where they say they will prepare your bankruptcy petition for a fraction of the cost of hiring an attorney, yet they cannot offer legal advice or represent you in court should something go wrong. One such owner of a petition prep company in Michigan seen here, was sentenced to 4 years of Federal prison time for continuously violating Federal Orders from a bankruptcy judge to stop providing the petition preparation service. Further the U.S. Trustee who oversee all bankruptcy filings has filed several complaints against such bankruptcy petition preparers which can be read about here.

You see, when you hire a petition preparer or even a credit restoration company with no attorney on staff who charges minimal fees and cannot provide legal advice or represent you in court, you run the risk of potentially losing your assets or having to hire a lawyer at a later date to fix problems with your case. The lawyer will most likely charge you more than if you hired them initially because they have to clean up the mess that somebody else caused for you. Some problems, like losing property that was not properly exempted or eligible to be exempt in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be irreversible.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want a nurse to perform a surgery instead of a doctor. I would gladly pay a higher cost to know things are being done properly and efficiently without having to worry at night whether I might lose my home, car or other assets. The same rational can be applied to repairing your credit as this industry has a lot of fly by night companies with no legal education and no industry experience to best advise you. Law firms are held to a higher ethical standard of the state bar and face discipline if matters are not handled in an ethical matter. Further attorneys are required to complete a certain amount of continuing education classes every 3 years which keeps them educated on the latest happenings in the law. I can’t say the same for non lawyers or petition prep companies. IF you want piece of mind that you case will be handled properly, you should make the right decision the first time around and avoid any potential headaches down the road.

If you have additional questions please contact Symmes Law Group, PLLC  at 206-682-7975

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