During the past several years, many firms have begun to advertise as "Bankruptcy Petition Preparers". These preparers are not attorneys and cannot represent individuals before the United States Bankruptcy Court. Some courts have found that bankruptcy petition preparers may do no more than type a petition. These same courts have ruled that bankruptcy petition preparers may not charge more than $50.00 for the typing of a petition.
Some bankruptcy petition preparers are actively engaging in the unauthorized practice of law. These preparers send solicitations to people whose home is currently in foreclosure in the state court system. The petition preparers prepare a bankruptcy petition on behalf of individuals. Often, these preparers do not complete the schedules correctly which can result in the plan being ultimately dismissed by the United States Bankruptcy Court and the individual who is attempting to save their home from foreclosure will still lose their home.
Bankruptcy petition preparers have been known to charge fees ranging from $600.00 to $1,000.00. Many people who use bankruptcy petition preparers believe that they cannot afford an attorney. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the majority of the attorney fees are paid as an administrative expense through the Chapter 13 plan. In essence, for the amount of money that many individuals are paying bankruptcy petition preparers, they can have a licensed and knowledgeable attorney assist them in their bankruptcy case. An attorney can assist the individual in appearing before the United States Bankruptcy Court and the Chapter 13 Trustee. Furthermore, said attorney can assist the individual seeking bankruptcy reorganization if the plan of reorganization needs amended or if other legal questions arise during the course of a Chapter 13 plan.
The Chapter 13 Trustee cannot endorse or recommend any particular attorney. However, the Chapter 13 office in Akron, Ohio, serves the Medina, Summit, and Portage County areas. All of the bar associations have attorney referrals. If an individual does not have an attorney and needs an attorney to discuss Chapter 13 bankruptcy or other bankruptcy options, the following numbers can be used to contact the local bar associations in obtaining a referral for a knowledgeable and licensed attorney.
Akron Bar Association
Medina County Bar Association
Portage County Bar Association