If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, this is not time to go it alone. Much of what goes into the filing of a bankruptcy petition comes from the insightful and probing questioning from a qualified bankruptcy attorney. Under New York State law, only a licensed attorney can provide legal advice. Paralegals and other bankruptcy petition preparers are strictly prohibited from practicing law, and therefore, can not give you legal advice or ask the necessary questions to make sure that you completing your paperwork fully and completely.
There is nothing in the law that prohibits an individual from filing a bankruptcy petition without the assistance of counsel. However, if you choose to file a bankruptcy petition without the assistance of an attorney, the Bankruptcy Court Trustee and the Bankruptcy Court Judge will presume that you have the knowledge and experience of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. When you file bankruptcy papers with the Court, you file these documents under the penalty of perjury. If you list information incorrectly in your petition, or omit necessary items, it is your problem and your problem alone.
When you file a bankruptcy petition, it is extremely important to be comfortable and have confidence in your representative. You will be revealing all your financial records. Do not be afraid to ask questions about fees, in particular, whether payment terms are available. Some paralegal services charge a minimal fee to prepare and file the necessary paperwork to file a bankruptcy petition. It has been my experience that the risk is simply not worth the small savings.
Last, don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Many attorneys are willing to take your case for a similar fee than which may be offered by a non-attorney. You must choose intelligently. Retaining the services of a professional to protect your property is serious business. You should be confident with your final choice.