Posted on Jun 14, 2014

If you are needing to file bankruptcy, my advice is to be prepared to pay a fair fee, and meet with a local attorney rather than trying to find some kind of cheap or "cut rate" help on the internet. You can get your case dismissed, or worse, potentially lose your house or other property, if you don't get the right kind of help in a bankruptcy case. You get even get your bankruptcy discharge denied, or in an extreme case, risk going to jail.

There are a lot of people out there that want to take your money, and don't care whether you are successful in your case. A person or company can act as a "bankruptcy petition preparer" without even being an attorney, but I don't see how anyone can really do that, without also being able to give legal advice.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas sitting in Galveston, Judge Letitia Paul, recently filed a Memorandum Opinion and entered judgment against individuals and a company, Texas BK Firm, which had been victimizing consumers that needed to file bankruptcy. 

In Texas in 2014, the Court found that the company had violated several provisions of the Bankruptcy Code including: (1) acted as a bankruptcy petition preparer without disclosing it's role; (2) failred to include an identifying number on petition; (3) signed the bankruptcy petition on behalf of the debtor; (4) gave the debtor legal advice; and (5) failed to file a declaration disclosing fees. The Court fined the individual owner, who was a convicted felon, $2500 for these transgressions, and enjoined him from acting as a bankruptcy petition preparer.

The Court also used its inherent powers to enjoin the individual owner, and all those acting with him, from filing documents in her court, stating:

The evidence in the instant case establishes a pattern of willful abuse by Texas BK Firm, in which non-attorneys created a false appearance (for both the court and the client) that the work they did in preparing, signing, and filing petitions, schedules, statements of financial affairs, disclosures of compensation, and other documents, was done by, or at the direction of, an attorney. In fact, although an attorney's name was signed to the documents, the documents were prepared without any consultation between attorney and client, and apparently without any regard, on the part of Texas BK Firm, for the legal significance of each client's particular situation. The court concludes that Texas BK Firm should be sanctioned, based on the court's inherent power.

In short, why take the chance hiring some kind of outfit from out of state or on the internet, when there are expert attorneys right here in the Houston, Texas area that you can likely hire for the same or very little more money? It just makes sense to hire an attorney that will take care of you, cares about the outcome of your case, and has a good reputation with the Bankruptcy Court. If you need help filing a bankruptcy case in Houston, give our office a call anytime at 713-772-8037. We offer in-office and telephone appointments.




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J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization