When is a bankruptcy lawyer not a bankruptcy lawyer? When he or she is a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (abbreviated BPP). BPP’s have no legal training, and in Kansas, a BPP does not even need to have a high school diploma. All too often, though, these pencil pushers try to wear the “hat” of a lawyer.As illustrated by the recent case regarding a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer out of Wichita, sometimes both members of the public and a BPP will get confused about what BPP’s really are. BPP’s are essentially typing services or secretaries who fill out bankruptcy petitions and schedules on behalf of members of the public. They are allowed under the US Bankruptcy Code, but they are strictly limited in the services they can perform. While they are cheaper than hiring an attorney, if you retain the services of a BPP, it’s particularly true that you (at best) get what you pay for. A BPP is not permitted to actually file any documents for you; they can only type them up, meaning you’re left interacting with both the courts and your creditors. These are the same creditors who have been hounding you, and you’ll be going toe-to-toe with their attorneys in Federal bankruptcy court. However, once you retain a qualified Kansas bankruptcy attorney, he or she will take care of filing all your court documents, will handle any challenges from the bankruptcy court trustee or your creditors’ lawyers, and your creditors will not be allowed to contact you directly at all. BPP’s can’t give you any legal advice – remember, they’re hired for their typing skills and they have no more legal expertise than their customers. Some of the issues that a BPP cannot advise you on include:which exemptions to use in order to retain all the property you can, if you can or should reaffirm a debt, the tax consequences of filing bankruptcy, whether you’ll be able to keep your house or car, which chapter of bankruptcy to file under, or if you need to even file bankruptcy at all. With your home (and everything in it), your car, your wages, your retirement savings, and other property rights on the line, I personally cannot fathom why anyone would not want a qualified Kansas bankruptcy attorney to represent them. Most often, people go to BPP’s simply because of the cost difference without realizing that a bankruptcy attorney can offer them payment options that will fit almost any budget, and our firm offers a free initial consultation. If you’re considering bankruptcy, you owe it to yourself and your family to contact us before stooping to a BPP. Give us a call today!By Adam Mack, J.D.Hillary Stirling, research assistant
These articles are for general informational use and do not constitute legal advice. Since laws change over time, it’s possible some articles are out of date and for that reason, we make no representation that the articles are fully accurate. For actual, up-to-date legal advice (including a free consultation), please contact us!