People who are considering bankruptcy are already in a precarious financial position, so it is understandable that they would seek to reduce the cost of their bankruptcy case as a result. The least expensive choice is to draft your own bankruptcy petition, followed by hiring a petition preparer for a few hundred dollars.
But think about this: Is it worthwhile to run the risk of filing your petition with inaccurate or incomplete information? Are you confident you will be able to file your paperwork timely without missing any deadlines? Incomplete filings or missing a deadline can result in the automatic dismissal of your case – meaning your debt survives, and you will still have a bankruptcy filing reported on your credit report. Worse, inaccurate paperwork can lead to allegations of bankruptcy fraud or even put your property at risk of liquidation by the court. These risks can come with serious consequences that are not worth the money you will save by trying to file without competent legal counsel.
What does it mean to hire a bankruptcy petition preparer?
A bankruptcy petition preparer is hired only to prepare your voluntary petition and schedules. They are not attorneys and they legally cannot give you any advice regarding your bankruptcy petition. As such, they cannot tell you what type of bankruptcy you qualify for, what evidentiary documentation the court will require. They cannot tell you what deadlines you need to meet or what information needs to be forwarded to the court in advance of your hearing. They cannot advise you if your assets are protected or if your property may be at risk. Even if they know you are giving them incorrect information, they cannot advise you accordingly. A bankruptcy petition preparer is only hired to input the information you give them into court format. You must do all of the other work.
There are benefits to working with a bankruptcy attorney.
Unlike a bankruptcy petition preparer, an attorney is there to advise you and handle all aspects of your case to ensure it is filed correctly and that there are no issues with filing your case. Bankruptcy attorneys have spent years learning the law and perfecting every aspect of the process. This enables them to offer knowledgeable assistance at each stage. You can get aid from your bankruptcy attorney with the following:
● Examine your circumstances and provide you with information on the benefits of Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and advise you on which chapter of bankruptcy will be best for your specific circumstances.
● Ensure that all your paperwork is filled out correctly, including the Means Test, which uses a calculation of your income paired with Federal and State standards to determine what type of bankruptcy you should proceed with.
● Help you decide which of the two California Exemption Systems will best protect your personal and real property from being liquidated during the bankruptcy process and educate you on the differences between them, debts and assets in your bankruptcy petition.
● Assist you in avoiding errors like submitting your petition too soon after filing for a prior bankruptcy, running up your credit card debt right before filing, converting an asset or transferring money or property to a relative.
● Prepare and submit the bankruptcy petition on your behalf and represent you at the court hearing.
● Ensure you meet the deadline requirements for your bankruptcy schedules, submission of tax returns, and the financial management course.
You can pay for a bankruptcy attorney.
Paying a higher price is clearly worthwhile when you weigh all of the extra services you receive from a bankruptcy attorney versus someone who simply types a bankruptcy petition. In fact, our law firm allows you to make monthly payments on the attorney’s fee to make it easier for you to have the representation you deserve. Remember, filing on your own may seem like the cheaper option, but the problems that can arise when you don’t have an experienced California bankruptcy attorney in your corner can cause your case to be tossed, allegations of fraud or misstatement, or even cause your property to be sold. In the long run, the small savings is not worth the risk!
We at Winterbotham Parham Teeple, a PC provide fair and affordable fee structures, and we will make every effort to provide you with the level of representation you require at a cost you can afford. Call 800.400.9000 and speak to one of our attorneys today!