Petition Preparer or Attorney, What's Better for Bankruptcy?

It makes sense that if someone needs to file bankruptcy, they probably don’t have a lot of money. So it can be tempting to seek bankruptcy help from a petition preparer or a cheap attorney from out of town. But it makes much more sense to hire someone who is actually an attorney and is familiar with the local bankruptcy rules and procedures. Bankruptcy is one of the most important decisions a consumer can make. Why not take the time to make sure that bankruptcy goes as smoothly and efficiently as possible?

Bankruptcy Petition Preparers

Sometimes Sacramento consumers go to bankruptcy petition preparers for assistance. The services, also known as “typing services,” are usually non-lawyers that charge a fee to generate the forms required to file a bankruptcy. While these services are typically less expensive on the front end, they can end up costing the consumer a great deal down the line. This is because petition preparers are unable to advise about exempt property, advise about which type of bankruptcy to file, advise which debts and assets to list, and give general legal advice.

That is why they are so cheap.

The fact is that petition preparers are not attorneys, thus they can not do what an experienced bankruptcy lawyer can. Many times, a consumer will hire a petition preparer to save money, but then be forced to hire an attorney anyway to fix the problems that arose because of the initial filing. Even the seemingly simple bankruptcies often have intricacies that require an attorney. A few years ago, a bankruptcy judge explained in a ruling that, due to the complexity of filing for bankruptcy, only members of the legal profession are presumptively competent to protect a debtor’s interests.

Hiring a Local Attorney

Bankruptcy power is derived from the US Constitution and the Bankruptcy Code was created by Congress, so it would be fair to assume that any bankruptcy attorney is a good bankruptcy attorney for any location. But bankruptcy practice and procedure varies widely from state to state and from district to district.

One of the major differences is that different states handle exempt property in different ways. That means that depending on which state’s exemptions apply to a case, the debtor may or may not be able to keep certain assets. Some states can be more friendly to Chapter 7 bankruptcies, and vice versa. Each district, and even court, often has it’s own rules and customs with regards to how the Bankruptcy Rules are used, how the Bankruptcy Code is interpreted, and the role of the trustee in the bankruptcy. There is also no uniform Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan (despite attempts to create one.)

A Local Attorney is the Best Hire

The stakes are too high. Consumers can lose cars, businesses, savings, and even their homes if a bankruptcy isn’t properly handled. Plus, hiring a local attorney will help the consumer feel more comfortable during the bankruptcy process. Since this is one of the most important decisions a consumer can make, it simply makes sense to go local and go professional. Get a local attorney.

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