When bankruptcy occurs, people caught in a financial disaster may feel forced to make some drastic decisions. One of these decisions is who to work with while preparing and filing for bankruptcy. You have several options, one of which being to work through the process unrepresented. However, most people choose to work with a professional to guarantee better results and a smoother overall process.
Which type of professional will you work with to prepare and file for your bankruptcy? You may choose to work with a bankruptcy lawyer in your area, or you may be interested in working with a bankruptcy petition preparer. Here’s more information about these professionals, as well as a few reasons you might want to reconsider partnering with them during your bankruptcy:
A bankruptcy petition preparer is mainly in charge of filling out your paperwork. They will typically have the software on hand to help you fill out your bankruptcy paperwork quickly and effectively. All you usually have to do is answer some questions, and your preparer will enter your information into their system to complete the forms and will then hand over the completed papers for you to take from there.
For those who do not have familiarity with or access to the internet, bankruptcy preparation software, or even a home computer or typewriter, these services can be helpful. Older Americans often choose a petition preparer, since the idea of paperwork in the modern sense can be confusing and intimidating for them. These professionals – usually paralegals or other, non-attorney students of law – can make completing the paperwork necessary for filing for bankruptcy easy and stress-free.
So, if a bankruptcy petition preparer does all that paperwork for you, what’s left for you to do in the bankruptcy process?
Unfortunately, a lot. Everything that happens once your paperwork is drafted up and ready to submit is up to you. You are responsible for actually filing for bankruptcy by yourself. You will be responsible for representing yourself in court, or for securing someone to represent you. You will have to be educated on what kind of bankruptcy you are filing for, what the laws are surrounding it, and how to argue your case in a court of law if you choose to enter the courtroom unrepresented. This is a daunting task for anyone, let alone someone who is already dealing with the mental and emotional stress of going through bankruptcy.
When you hire a petition preparer, you are essentially hiring someone to complete paperwork for you. While this can be convenient and put your mind at ease if you’re not familiar or comfortable with the task, it’s also an unnecessary expense for most people. If you know how to use a typewriter or computer and have access to either, you have everything you need to prepare your paperwork yourself.
Many lawyers who offer bankruptcy services do not charge fees upfront. Those that do may offer payment plans. Some don’t 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 don’t 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. What’s 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 doesn’t 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.
Perhaps the biggest reason why you should forgo the services of a bankruptcy petition preparer is this: They can’t offer you anything that your lawyer cannot. They prepare paperwork and give you minimal advice on where information goes on those forms. Beyond that, you’re on your own. Seems like very little value for your money, doesn’t it?
In addition to all of this, there are quite a few things that your lawyer can do for you that a petition preparer cannot. These include but aren’t limited to:
All these services – and a whole lot more – are available through a bankruptcy attorney. An attorney will also represent you in court, helping you navigate every aspect of the bankruptcy process. From paperwork to appeals and beyond, no one knows the legal system like a licensed bankruptcy attorney. Why would you pay additional fees for unnecessary services or try to represent yourself in court when you don’t have to?
When you’re ready for the complete package, talk to us as Van Horn Law Group. We have the local and national-level legal expertise you need to go from paperwork to a discharge of debt. To us, you’re not just a stack of paperwork, you’re a real person. Let us treat you that way. Call us today for more information on getting the help you need, all in one place.
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