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Bankruptcy petition preparer legal in Massachusetts?

My sister used a bankruptcy petition preparer when she filed chapter 7 bankruptcy last year and said I should do it to if I file. She said it was a lot cheaper than hiring an attorney and worked really well without any problems. What do you think about using that plan?

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I'm glad things worked out for your sister, but you need to be cautious when signing up with a petition preparer.  You should know what you are, and are not, getting.  And, if you go that route, make sure you find an experienced preparer.  There have been instances in Massachusetts and in other states where petition preparers perform sub-par work that endangers the debtor's chances of obtaining relief.  A "bankruptcy petition preparer" is NOT an attorney.  By law, all they are allowed to do is help your fill out bankruptcy petitions and related forms.  For this service, they charge a fee.  They are not qualified, and should not attempt, to provide legal advice regarding your bankruptcy.  Nor are they authorized to sign any documents on your behalf, although they must sign all documents they prepare in their capacity as the preparer.  

Additionally, according According to 11 U.S.C. 110(e) (2), bankruptcy petition preparers are not allowed to: (1) represent the debtor in court; (2) offer advice on which chapter (chapter 7 or chapter 13) to file; (3) offer opinion on which debts will be discharged; (4) comment on which of the debtor's properties (such as home, car, etc.) will remain in the debtor's possession post-discharge; (5) discuss tax consequences of the bankruptcy filing; or (6) discuss strategies or offer advice regarding reaffirmation agreements for the debtor's assets. 

In other words, the bankruptcy petition preparer is not qualified and, according to the law, should not attempt to offer guidance on any of the many issues that usually come up during a typical bankruptcy.  I think debtor's are much better off using a qualified attorney.  Good luck to you.

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