Petition preparers may not give legal advice they can only fill out forms. Bankruptcy petition preparers are not allowed in my jurisdictions, but I am 3,000 miles away from you. Most, if not all, of my bankruptcy clients require legal advice from me before they can place their finances in the hands of a system that can be unforgiving. Bankruptcy requires review of your entire financial situation including all debts, income and assets. I highly recommend that you retain an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to guide you through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure.
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This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies. In the event that you have follow up questions, please post them directly on this site. This does not create an attorney-client relationship and the attorney does not read unsolicited emails. Thank You.
Petition preparers routinely come under fire for incorrectly completing bankruptcy petitions. Bankruptcy is not an area where you just fill in the blanks. You can lose property if you do not do it correctly. You can go to jail if you misrepresent or outright lie about the assets you have. Also, many of them charge more than they are allowed to charge by the courts in the jurisdiction. Consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney. You cannot afford not to.
[I am a Virginia-licensed attorney. This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]
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Filing bankruptcy without a lawyer can be an expensive mistake. You can see for yourself by sitting in on bankruptcy meetings with the trustee. Because petition prepares can only fill in the forms, you miss out on important advice such as how to legally protect your assets from being seized by the trustee.
Think you have nothing to lose? Do you get a tax refund? Do you have a bank account? Do you have a 401K program at work?
I know it is tempting to cut back where you can when money is tight. But bankruptcy can be an investment in your future and having the right attorney to guide you can make your future much better.
Hope this perspective helps!
I agree with the previous commenters, filing with a petition preparer can be a lot of trouble. I've had to step in and correct their mistakes (or try to) on many occasions.
But if income is an issue, the King County Bar Association has volunteer or low-cost bankruptcy attorneys who will represent low-income clients throughout the bankruptcy, including preparing your petitions and representing you at a creditors' meeting.
You can call KCBA at (206) 461-3200 and see if they can help you out.