Can I Save on Legal Fees and File For Bankruptcy with a Paid Preparer?
Of course, however, why do this? A paid bankruptcy preparer has a very limited scope. A lawyer, on the other hand, will know if you need to file, will present you with various options, and knows where he or she doesn’t know the law so will protect you by researching what to do. A lawyer will charge a fair amount and is regulated by the state board of bar overseers. A lawyer will sign an affidavit on the Bankruptcy Petition and Schedules as to what he or she charged, and will inform you of any problems to anticipate.
A bankruptcy preparer is not a lawyer. What training does he or she have? What certificates, licenses or degrees? Just because he or she helped your friend, he may not understand the nuances of your case. Every case is different. Most cases involves some level of bankruptcy planning, something a paid preparer can’t possibly do. And, lawyers put their malpractice insurance coverage update on the BBO website.
Paid Bankruptcy Preparer Is Jailed in Michigan
In a case in Michigan, a paid bankruptcy petition preparer was recently incarcerated for criminal contempt. It appears that Derrick Hills, a 54 year old non-lawyer was sentenced to four years in federal prison because he failed to follow the Bankruptcy Court’s order to stop filing bankruptcy petitions on behalf of debtors because his petitions violated Bankruptcy Court rules. According to reports, there were five orders, from the same judge, to stop assisting bankruptcy filers. Mr. Hills was so blatant in his contempt of the Court, that even after violating five orders, losing a jury trial in federal court, he failed to appear for sentencing! Apparently the United States Marshalls had to forcibly enter his house to bring him to the hearing.
We don’t know what’s next for Mr. Hills, however, the witnesses testified they paid cash and were told to testify that they didn’t pay for help. Will the US Attorney who prosecuted turn over the file to the IRS? Did Mr. Hills pay taxes? Of course this is not someone you would want to file for you to get a “fresh start” under federal bankruptcy.
We do know that violating Court Orders can’t help you. Mr. Hills repeatedly violated the judge’s orders, encouraged petitioners to lie, and even made a mockery of his own trial and sentencing hearing.
Hire an Experienced Bankruptcy Attorney
We don’t know how it works in Detroit. We don’t know any non lawyer bankruptcy preparers here in Massachusetts. There may well be an outstanding practice.
We recommend that debtors take their problem seriously, get a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, and, if possible, file a chapter 7 personal bankruptcy for a fresh start in Massachusetts.
Attorney Neil Burns has been representing folks since 1985. He has been to Bankruptcy Court and Trustee Hearings for over 28 years. Call him for a free consultation: 617-227-7423