Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (BPP) is an individual who is not an attorney or company which is not under an attorney’s supervision. A BPP prepares the documents as instructed by you. You may be required to fill out an extensive questionnaire and provide confidential information.
Therefore, you must ensure the Bankruptcy Petition Preparer is trustworthy, complies with the Bankruptcy Code and abides by the legal guidelines to ensure he or she is not performing unauthorized practice of law.
The fee most Bankruptcy Districts allow a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer to charged should be a fee that is at or below the reasonable fee approved by the Courts. In the Middle District of Florida, the fee range should be around $150 for Chapter 7 and $175 for Chapter 13.
Of course, the fee may be less under some circumstances or pro bono. For the most part, a single debtor fee should be no more than $200 unless a person has 25 or more creditors. Ethically, a BPP should charge a reasonable fee that the debtor is able to pay and still pay the Bankruptcy filing fees.
WHAT A BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER CAN DO:
- Obtain the necessary information to prepare the forms whether by written questionnaires, copies of statements, and/or through you directly
- Type a debtor’s Voluntary Petition, Exhibit D, Summary of Schedules, Schedules A-J, Declaration, Statements and mailing matrix (usually 54 – 60 pages long) under you, the Petitioner’s (debtor’s), advisement and direction.
A BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER CANNOT:
- Provide legal advice
- Advertise using the word “legal” or any similar terminology
- Inform or advise you what chapter to file under
- Inform or advise you what exemptions to claim
- Inform or advise you regarding reaffirmation
- Inform or advise you not to list a debt or asset
WHY USE A BANKRUPTCY PETITION PREPARER?
- There are several forms to prepare and you may not have the time to fill out each of them.
- Most BPPs have bankruptcy software allowing a quicker preparation time to fill out the forms than if you did it yourself. The software is usually too expensive for a one-time filing.
- A debtor may be too stressed out or depressed to complete the forms.
- It may be more cost effective compared to hiring an attorney.
Of course a debtor is not limited to using a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer to preparer his or her schedules. He or she may decide a lawyer is needed in order to obtain legal advice for his or her particular situation. Maybe the debtor is unable to pay the fees for filing, let alone a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer to type the forms.
Therefore, he or she may choose to prepare the forms or obtain assistance from pro bono sources. A few sources a debtor may find useful are:
- US Bankruptcy Court – several videos, resources, and PDF forms
- Your state’s Bar Association – access to attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy and may do pro bono cases
- American Bankruptcy Institute – pro bono services
- Your state’s Legal Aide office – reduced fees or pro bono services
In any event, a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer should be able to help you with your forms as a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer and make every attempt to provide services at a price you can afford. You may be required to provide information on a 27-page Questionnaire via email prior to your appointment.
You may also need to provide the last 90 days credit and debit statements, last 3 year’s tax returns and W-2s, last 60 days of pay stubs, itemization of household goods with estimated values and clothing/attire value. At times, a debtor may need advice that is beyond the scope of a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer. A debtor is not obligated to use a BPPs service in order to file bankruptcy.
This article is being provided as an educational tool and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you need legal advice, contact an attorney.