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Article: Bankruptcy Preparers Are Not Lawyers And Cannot Give Legal Advice

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: March 10, 2014

The following is a kind of consumer advisory article recently written concerning people who call themselves “Bankruptcy Preparers.”

Written By Daniel Winter: March 8, 2014

The Bankruptcy law does allow non-lawyers to help people file for bankruptcy protection on their own. They are called “Petition Preparers” and there’s a whole section of the Bankruptcy Code devoted to them. But, just because they are out there, does not mean that they are a good option.

The petition preparer by law can only act as a “typing service”. They cannot advise you, as a lawyer can, how to fill out the forms, and more importantly, what the legal consequences of your bankruptcy case will be. They need to give warnings to people that they are not lawyers, and cannot give any legal advice. They need to put their name and address on the petition, and sign it.  They cannot tell you whether filing a bankruptcy will help or hurt you, or whether you should file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. If they give legal advice of any kind, or don’t follow the rules, they can be penalized.

Recently, Courts in Michigan and Wisconsin have cracked down on petition preparers who have stepped over the line.

The illegal preparers have been required to return money to people, or have been sentenced to jail time because they did not follow the rules, or gave people legal advice. There are good reasons why only lawyers are allowed to give legal advice, just as only doctors can give medical help.

If it sounds too good, or too cheap, to be true, it probably is. Most of the time, helping fix a case filed with a petition preparer’s help is more expensive than using an attorney in the first place. It is always best to contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney to discuss your options.

Daniel J. Winter

At the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson, PLLC, we offer a free in person bankruptcy consultation with Chris Benson to discuss your options. Most people find that the solutions available make financial sense so that they can take control of their financial situation. Our clients have financial problems and we are here to help you find the solution.

Over the past 22 years, we have helped over 2,300 Washington clients solve their financial situation.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More