If you file for bankruptcy, you have the option of paying a petition preparer to type your bankruptcy documents for you. In this article, we’ll define the term “petition preparer” and explain what they can and cannot do.
In bankruptcy, a petition preparer is any party - other than a lawyer - who charges to help debtors prepare bankruptcy documents. The petition preparer will assist debtors in preparing the necessary bankruptcy forms to file either manually or using bankruptcy software.
Petition preparers are advantageous for a few reasons, including their ability to:
It’s important to note that bankruptcy preparers are not always attorneys and do not always have a legal education. This means that they cannot provide legal advice or represent debtors in court. Things petition prepares cannot do include:
For this reason, it’s best to think of a petition preparer as a typing service that takes information debtors give them and transcribes it onto the official forms. They cannot take any kind of legal responsibility for a case. It is up to the debtor to understand the workings of their bankruptcy case on their own, including:
There are no legal requirements for petition preparers in terms of education, experience, tests, or background checks. However, anybody who charges a fee for preparing bankruptcy forms must follow a number of specific business practices, including:
They also may not:
If a petition preparer causes legal or economic injuries to a debtor because of their negligence or commits fraud, deception, or unfair conduct, debtors have a right to request compensation from them in the form of actual damages, service fees, and legal fees.