Alaska Petition Preparer Guidelines

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If you have decided to forgo a lawyer and declare bankruptcy on your own in Alaska, it is easy to become overwhelmed with the paperwork involved. For this reason, it is possible to get a little help from a petition preparer. This is someone who is not a lawyer and is not employed by a lawyer, but charges money to type up bankruptcy forms. The charge for this service is usually less than $150 since petition preparers are not allowed to charge any more. In fact, they are not even allowed to collect your court fees since you must pay them yourself.

If you come across a petition preparer who breaks these rules, you should refuse to pay the money and report him so no one else falls for this scam. Before you choose a petition preparer in Alaska, find out the duties of this type of professional.

What a Petition Preparer Can Do

The job of a petition preparer is rather straightforward, as this professional is only allowed to type up the documents required for bankruptcy. If you do not have ready access to a typewriter or computer, or simply do not have the time to prepare the many forms, a petition preparer can be useful. You will have to instruct him on which documents you need, which can typically be found online or at the court. This means you have to know the basic steps of bankruptcy; do not expect a petition preparer to play the part of a lawyer.

What a Petition Preparer Cannot Do

In fact, a petition preparer in Alaska is not in any way allowed to offer legal advice. This is a good thing since petition preparers do not undergo any legal training for their job, meaning you do not want their advice anyway since it is not usually accurate. If you have a legal question, save it for a lawyer, or at least go to a law library to find out the answer. For example, you may wonder which chapter of bankruptcy to file, how to fill out the forms, or how to respond to an objection of debt discharge. You cannot expect an answer to these questions from your petition preparer. Additionally, do not ask which assets you can keep, which Alaska exemptions apply to you, or which debts can be discharged by your bankruptcy. If you are wondering whether you can keep your house, or whether you should reaffirm debts or redeem property, do not ask your petition preparer. Finally, do not ask about the effect of bankruptcy on your taxes or whether you can get any liens removed through this financial route. If your petition preparer attempts to answer you, he can get in big trouble and possibly be charged a fine, as he is not qualified to give advice.

Getting Legal Help

As you get farther in the bankruptcy process, you will probably come up with questions. While it may be tempting to ask your petition preparer for answers, as you may feel alone and uninformed, this is the last person you should be asking. Instead, when you feel really overwhelmed, ask an Alaska bankruptcy lawyer at an initial consultation.