The No-No’s of Bankruptcy: Why You Should Avoid Online Bankruptcy Services
Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2015
If you have been on the internet lately to sort through your bankruptcy options, you may notice many online services claiming that, for an incredibly low fee, they can help you take care of the bankruptcy process. At Amerio Law Firm, we do not recommend this method of filing for bankruptcy AT ALL. The problem being that in most cases, bankruptcy filers will misunderstand that these companies have your best intentions in mind. Unfortunately, these sort of online bankruptcy service companies are typically not lawyers, meaning they do not represent you in any legal capacity whatsoever. They might as well be robots, as they mindlessly input your information into bankruptcy documents, then send you the documents back to you so that you (alone and without representation) can file them with the proper bankruptcy court. These types of companies and/or individuals are called bankruptcy petition preparers, and if you look at the fine print, you may be able to notice (since it is required by law for them to tell you) that they are not lawyers, and they are not allowed to give any legal advice. They don’t back you up at all! These people are just in it for the paycheck. They have absolutely no personal feelings and cannot provide you with any extremely important legal advice as to which type of bankruptcy would be best for you and your financial situation or how to move forward with your bankruptcy case.
Legally speaking, there are a number of things these online bankruptcy services cannot do for you. These types of companies or individuals cannot advise you with which type of bankruptcy is best for you to file for. Different chapters of bankruptcy are meant for different people. Depending on your current financial situation and your lifestyle, choosing the right chapter is extremely important. Another important factor to take into consideration: they also cannot advise what deductions are allowable in completing the Means Test. A Means Test is a crucial part in determining what exemptions to use or what property you can/should exempt from the Bankruptcy process. Another issue with online bankruptcy petitioners is that they also cannot advise you on a seemingly simple (but key) task such as how you should list your property or your debts.
At this point, you may be wondering what these online companies actually can do for you throughout the bankruptcy process. A quick summary of their services includes taking the information you provide them and typing said information into the proper bankruptcy documents. The bankruptcy petition preparer is required to sign any documents they formulate, while also including their address and social security number in the process. The online company used must also file a document with the bankruptcy court (within 10 days of filing your bankruptcy case) disclosing what fees they’ve charged you.
If you hire a bankruptcy petition preparer and they give you any advice about how to complete the forms, these preparers may be engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. It is extremely important to note that if this advice is incorrect, or you’ve interpreted the bankruptcy laws incorrectly, you could end up losing assets. It is also possible you may not have all of your debts discharged and you may not receive any discharge whatsoever and end up having to pay money to the Trustee or your creditors.
If you’ve decided it’s time to file for bankruptcy and agree to hire a bankruptcy petition preparer, it’s incredibly important to do some research and ask yourself these questions:
- How long they have been in business?
- Do they have good customer reviews?
- Do they adhere to the rules and requirements imposed upon bankruptcy petition preparers?
The bottom line is that if something is wrong with your file for bankruptcy, the bankruptcy petition preparer does not represent you in the bankruptcy in any way whatsoever, meaning you will have to face the consequences of any errors or omission on your own (unless you decide to hire a lawyer at that point).
If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, call the bankruptcy attorneys at Amerio Law Firm at (916) 419-1111 today. Our experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will have your back and take the time to explain to you which type of bankruptcy is best for you.