Volunteer Spotlight: Liz Peterson
When Ms. H needed a bankruptcy, she was referred to a “preparer” who charged her $750 to complete the forms. At her preliminary bankruptcy hearing, the trustee reviewing her case described her paperwork as some of the most poorly prepared he had ever seen. The preparer created handwritten schedules of Ms. H’s assets and liabilities, and listed everything as domestic support obligations. Had that document been filed, none of her debts would be dischargeable under the law. The trustee saw that Ms. H had been taken advantage of, and referred her to CVLS volunteer, Liz Peterson.
Liz and CVLS agreed to take the case. Liz worked with Ms. H to correct course and guide her through the bankruptcy process with expert care, respect and attention to detail. In the meantime, they also worked with the U.S. Trustee’s office to impose penalties against the preparer. The court granted the motion and required the preparer to return the fee Ms. H had paid him, in addition to a $2,000 statutory penalty. The Court also imposed $7,500 in penalties on the preparer, paid to the Trustee’s office. When another bankruptcy came before another bankruptcy trustee’s office with similar issues, the preparer was permanently enjoined from preparing bankruptcy paperwork for anyone else.
“She filed for bankruptcy because she needs help and this guy took advantage of the situation,” Liz said. Ms. H’s bankruptcy is moving forward with Liz’s expert guidance and she will soon be on more stable financial footing. The preparer is making court ordered payments to Ms. H for the damage he caused, and is legally barred from taking advantage of other people facing bankruptcy again. Because of Liz’s hard work, Ms. H is getting the skilled guidance she needs, and an unskilled petition preparer won’t be able to take advantage of others in the future. Great work, Liz!