Any debtor who pays someone other than an attorney to help prepare a bankruptcy petition and schedules should be aware of the following:
By federal law, the person offering to help you is only permitted to provide limited services, such as:
- Giving you copies of blank bankruptcy forms;
- Telling you where the Bankruptcy Court is located, its hours of operation, and how much it costs to file for bankruptcy;
- Typing on your petition and schedules only the information that you have provided for those forms, and;
- Making copies of your completed bankruptcy petition and schedules.
By federal law, a bankruptcy petition preparer may not:
- Offer you any legal advice;
- Collect or receive any payment from you for the Court filing fees;
- File any document with the Court on your behalf.
By federal law, the person who offered to help you must do ALL of the following:
- Sign your bankruptcy petition;
- Print his/her name, address, and Social Security number on your bankruptcy petition;
- Complete for filing the Disclosure of Compensation of Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (Form B280); and
- Complete for filing the Declaration and Signature of Non-Attorney Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (Form B19).
- By Local Bankruptcy Rule 2016-2, a bankruptcy petition preparer may not charge you a fee in excess of $125, unless the Court specifically allows a higher fee.