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Beware of the Bankruptcy Petition Preparer

You’re telling me that I can file for Bankruptcy for less than $200?! Sweet! Sign me up. But wait..what’s the catch? For “less than $200,” there is ALWAYS a catch.

It’s true that hiring a Bankruptcy attorney to represent you in your Bankruptcy case is not a requirement under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. You have every right to file without an attorney and represent yourself (pro se). You can even hire a non-attorney Bankruptcy petition preparer to help you. But is it worth it?

Not to be crass, but non-attorney Bankruptcy petition preparers are essentially nothing more than glorified typists. If you have access to a computer and can type, save yourself the $200 you would be paying a Bankruptcy petition preparer, and prepare your petition yourself.

But why does hiring an attorney cost so much more? Simple answer: Because you are getting so much more than a type-writing service in return.

If you’re still on the fence, consider what a non-attorney Bankruptcy petition preparer CAN and CANNOT do:

  1. They CANNOT charge you more than what the Bankruptcy Courts deem is reasonable. Typically, any amount over $200 will be considered “unreasonable”. This fee does not include the filing fee, which is a separate payment you will have to make to the Bankruptcy Courts directly.

  2. They CANNOT provide you with any legal advice. Have a question? Sorry, but they can’t answer it. Doing so would be a violation of the law, and could land them in federal prison! (See:

  3. They CAN type up what you tell them to. Like I said, you’re paying for a type-writing service. What this means is that they can’t tell you what to include or not to include in your petition. They cannot tell you whether or not you should even file for Bankruptcy, or which forms you’ll need to file.

There are so many other limitations and considerations to take into account when deciding whether to hire a Bankruptcy petition preparer. Be wary of making any decisions that you could end up majorly regretting later simply because the price tag looks appealing.

About the Author
Tina Tran
Posted - 02/05/2019 | Illinois