If you are ever online in website such as craigslist.org or similarly related sites you may have come across an advertisement for a bankruptcy preparer.  Most people don’t  know what a bankruptcy preparer is and what services they offer.  People see the low price that a preparer offers and automatically think that they can save money and use the preparer services.  Be warned that the hiring a preparer comes with consequences, here are a few:

    • A bankruptcy preparer is NOT an attorney.  Under Florida law a bankruptcy preparer is barred from providing any legal advice to their clients.  That means they are not allowed to tell you what assets you can keep (exempt), which bankruptcy is right for you (either chapter 7 or chapter 13), or even tell you if you qualify to file for bankruptcy at all.  If you retain the services of a bankruptcy lawyer then he or she will be able to answer all your questions, help you protect your assets, as well as time your bankruptcy perfectly to make sure you don’t have to pay anything in a chapter 7 or make sure you qualify for the bankruptcy you need.
    • Upon the filing of a bankruptcy, the debtor is required to attend a 341 meeting of the creditors.   During the meeting of the creditors the bankruptcy trustee will ask the debtor about their bankruptcy petition.  Also creditors will be allowed to ask the debtor similar questions.  The bankruptcy preparer is not allowed to attend the 341 meeting with the debtor, nor are they allowed to explain to the debtor on how to answer questions likely to be asked at a 341 meeting.  If you hire a bankruptcy lawyer then that lawyer will attend the 341 with you.  They will prepare you for the 341 meeting, including providing you with example questions and answers that you will be asked
    • A debtor may be sued within a bankruptcy by a creditor.  If a debtor is sued then they cannot be represented by a bankruptcy preparer.
    • A bankruptcy preparer has no knowledge of the local bankruptcy trustees and the documents they require.  Upon the filing of the bankruptcy the trustee will ask the debtor to supply certain documents by a certain date.  Each trustee requests different documents and provides different methods to produce the documents.  The failure to produce the documents will either delay or dismiss your case.  Using a bankruptcy attorney will ensure that those documents are provided in a timely manner so as not to hinder or delay the bankruptcy case.

    Don’t make the costly mistake of using a bankruptcy preparer, instead use a bankruptcy attorney who will guide you the whole way through your bankruptcy case.  If you would like to schedule a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney then please contact Shmucher Law, PL at 954.309.5559 or 305.741.5553.  We offer free bankruptcy consultations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Plantation, and Sunrise Florida.