Do I Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?
Do You Need a Petition Preparer?
If you are thinking about filing bankruptcy, you may be tempted to hire a non-attorney petition preparer to help you. Petition preparers may provide low-cost services, but they are quite limited in what they can do for you. First, § 110 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code prohibits them from giving you legal advice.
As a result a non-attorney petition preparer cannot help you:
- Determine if bankruptcy is right for you
- What bankruptcy chapter is best for you
- What assets you own are exempt from your creditors
- The best way to respond to forms required in connection with your bankruptcy case
- Whether or not certain debts you owe are dischargeable in bankruptcy
- Whether you should reaffirm debts
- What defenses might be available if you are faced with an objection to discharge
Only an attorney can give this type of legal advice.
Furthermore, you should be aware that a petition preparer cannot represent you in court; therefore, they will not be present when you meet with your bankruptcy trustee during your mandatory 341 meeting and they cannot assist in other bankruptcy proceedings such as:
- 2004 exams
- Motions to dismiss
- Motions to convert
- Adversary proceedings
- Motions for relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay
Only an attorney can represent you in court.
Concern over the use of petition preparers has risen over the years, as they often prey upon people with limited resources who are looking to cut costs. Through the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005, Congress attempted to protect bankruptcy debtors from abuse by petition preparers.
Recently, some courts have sanctioned petition preparers for practicing law without a license. Here in the Eastern District of Wisconsin, the bankruptcy judges have barred many petition preparers from preparing bankruptcy petitions. Some have been referred for criminal prosecution.
The U.S. Trustee's Office, a division of the U.S. Department of Justice, has warned against the use of petition preparers and has filed hundreds of actions against petition preparers nationwide.
What Should You Look for When Hiring a Bankruptcy Attorney?
Bankruptcy is a very complicated legal proceeding and it is important that you hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney who cares about you! It is important to look for a law office that specializes in bankruptcy. Unlike many law firms, Sapinski Law Office, S.C. is not a "general practice" firm that seeks work in other legal areas because it may provide paying clients.
Over 20 years, Lawyer Andrew Sapinski has focused exclusively on bankruptcy law and during that time has filed well over 2,000 bankruptcy cases for clients throughout the state of Wisconsin. Attorney Andrew Sapinski has not only built a reputation for experienced and quality representation, but also for providing a caring approach to his client's cases.
Sapinski Law Office, S.C. receives a countless number of referrals from past clients because it is a full-service law firm that holds your hand through the entire bankruptcy process. They can obtain your credit reports and assist you in identifying and locating your creditors. They walk you step by step through the bankruptcy process, and complete all the complicated forms for you.
After bankruptcy, they even show you how to rebuild your credit score so you can get credit again and have a life after bankruptcy. The firm strives to make what could be a difficult situation as painless as possible. It is no wonder Sapinski Law Office, S.C. has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
You should also hire an attorney who will be personally involved in all phases of your case. As your Milwaukee bankruptcy attorney, Drew Sapinski will be involved from start to finish throughout the entire process -from the time you hire his firm to represent you, to when you review and sign your bankruptcy papers, to your appearance before a bankruptcy trustee at your 341 meeting.
Your case won't be bounced around from one professional to another. Many lawyers have so many active cases, they hardly ever look at the file or even talk to the client, instead employing numerous paralegals to do most of their work.
At Sapinski Law Office, S.C., we often refer to these firms as "mills," "factories," or "assembly lines." Sapinski Law Office, S.C. believes you deserve better. Attorney Sapinski cares about your case and is 100 percent committed to giving your case all the personal attention and care it deserves. He knows all his clients by name and will not assign a "client number" or "ID number" to your file. Every file is treated as if it were his own.
Be careful! Avoid non-attorney petition preparers and / or attorneys who lack sufficient bankruptcy experience. While handling bankruptcy cases comes easy to the staff at Sapinski Law Office, S.C. after years in the field, there are numerous traps and pitfalls that can be easily overlooked if you trust your situation with someone who lacks sufficient prior experience.
Don't be a victim twice. Consult an attorney with a proven track record. Sapinski Law Office, S.C. remains established as one of the top bankruptcy law firms in Wisconsin. For years, it has been handling bankruptcy cases throughout the Eastern District of Wisconsin.
Your First Meeting with a Bankruptcy Attorney
The idea of meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer can be very intimidating for some people. At Sapinski Law Office, S.C. my team and I understand the emotions you are feeling, so we work hard to dispel our clients' pre-conceived notions and fears.
Right away, you'll know that you have compassionate and experienced legal professionals on your side. After you fill out a simple intake form, you'll meet with me, Andrew Sapinski. I will ask you some questions about your debts and assets.
I will also review your budget, including your income and expenses, and will ask some questions regarding your past financial history. I will then explain all your bankruptcy and non-bankruptcy debt relief options in full detail so that you can decide what option is best for you and your family.
You will not be charged a fee at this first consultation and you will not be pressured to make any decisions. In fact, you will be encouraged to think about your options and call when you feel you are ready. When you decide to hire Sapinski Law Office, S.C., more forms may need to be completed. If you decide to file bankruptcy, my staff and I will complete all the complicated bankruptcy forms with you and help you obtain important documents such as your credit report.
What To Bring to Your Consultation
What should you bring when you come in? Here is a list of items I will likely want to look at during your initial meeting:
- The most recent statements / correspondence you have received from your creditors or a list of who you owe money to, their addresses, and how much you owe.
- Bring information for all creditors you have, regardless of whether or not you plan to include them in the bankruptcy. If you have a lot of bills and are not sure what to bring, just bring all your bills with you. I will go through them, pull your credit report and help you sort it all out.
- Paystubs or a printout showing your earnings from all pay periods over the previous seven months
- A complete list of your monthly expenses, including but not limited to: groceries, prescriptions, utilities, rent and gas
- State and federal income tax returns/W2 forms from the past two years
- If you are being sued, are facing a foreclosure, or have been divorced, bring any court papers you recently received
- Divorce papers (if you were divorced within the last 10 years)
- A copy of title for each of your vehicles
- If you own real estate, bring the property tax bill
- If you own land, a recorded copy of the deed/recorded copies of mortgages
If more information is necessary, I will either help you obtain it or show you where you can go to get it. Don't wait! Call Sapinski Law Office, S.C. today to set up your free case consultation. Proudly serving clients residing in Milwaukee, Appleton, Waukesha, and Elm Grove!
Get to know Attorney Sapinski and how he will work with you to achieve a better financial future.
20+ Years of Legal Experience
2,000+ Bankruptcy Cases Successfully Resolved
Simple & Hassle-Free Payment Plans
Free Credit Restoration After Bankruptcy Filing
“You definitely took away a lot of the pain.”- T.B.
“If you are in need of legal assistance in the area of debt relief or bankruptcy, I would highly recommend Andrew Sapinsky.”- V.S.
“I would recommend Sapinski Law Office, S.C. to anyone facing bankruptcy.”- Will