You have met with a bankruptcy petition preparer, you have paid them, and now you have questions. For starters, you want to save your house and you want to know what chapter of the bankruptcy code you can file. You also want to know if you can lower the interest on your motor vehicle and keep paying your motor vehicle while in bankruptcy. It is also important for you to know if you can keep some of your credit cards when you file. You turn to your bankruptcy petition preparer and you ask away.
After reading Part I, you now know that the bankruptcy petition preparer had to give you a written contract with the payment terms and work to be done but he/she cannot give you any legal advice. See Blog Archive – Florida Bankruptcy Without an Attorney -Part I.
Consumers beware! This is a partial list of common questions that may not be answered by the bankruptcy petition preparer regardless of the experience of the preparer as noted by the US Trustee Program’s questionnaire for debtors not represented by an attorney (This questionnaire is provided to debtors who do not have an attorney at the first meeting of creditors.)
Unlike an experienced Florida bankruptcy attorney, the bankruptcy petition preparer cannot:
1. Assist you with determining exemptions (help you with what property you can keep)
2. Explain to you which of your debts are “secured’, “unsecured” or “priority”
3. Explain to you the different chapters in bankruptcy (For example: chapter 7, 11, 13)
4. Answer any questions for you in the bankruptcy papers (petition and schedules)
5. Advise you whether your debts will be discharged in bankruptcy
6. Advise you that you can keep your house, car, or other property
7. Advise you about bankruptcy procedures
8. Instruct you on how to answer questions at the meeting of creditors
9. File the bankruptcy paperwork for you
10. Deny you a signed copy of the petition and schedules
The debtor who is filing without a South Florida bankruptcy attorney must also be aware that the bankruptcy petition preparer cannot do the following:
1. Advise you to exclude assets or income that should have been include
2. Advise you to use an incorrect social security number
3. Instruct you to state at the meeting of creditors that you were not helped by a bankruptcy petition preparer
What is the lesson to be learned? When you are faced with debt and legal issues, the best decision is to hire an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney.