Life has a way of throwing curve balls and when it does, it can seriously affect your finances. While most people have the best intentions of paying their bills and taking care of their responsibilities, certain circumstances may arise where filing bankruptcy is the best route to take. If you are considering this option, Bankruptcy Law requires counseling prior to and after filing to help you make the most informed decision. Once the courses are complete, you receive a bankruptcy certificate for each. These documents are required before you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and again after the filing but before the debts are discharged. Continue reading to learn more about the required courses and the necessary bankruptcy certificates.
Earning a Bankruptcy Certificate with Credit Counseling
The first thing you need to do to obtain your bankruptcy certificate is to complete a credit counseling course. The organization you choose must be approved by the Department of Justice's U.S. Trustee Program. You can find courses to take online or by phone and they typically take 60 to 90 minutes to complete. There is a fee associated with the course, but if you are unable to pay it, you can apply for a waiver.
During the credit counseling, you will provide information concerning your finances, including your income, expenses, and debt. Since you will need all of this information to file bankruptcy, it can be helpful to gather this documentation for the course and keep it handy if you decide to continue with the filing.
You will need the following:
- Proof of income - including pay stubs or other income sources such as disability payments or Social Security
- Household expenses - receipts and utility bills
- Debts - your latest statements
With this information, the counseling will walk you through:
- Evaluating your financial situation
- Reviewing your spending habits
- Setting up a personal budget
- Exploring bankruptcy alternatives
Your certificate will be sent to you and/or your bankruptcy attorney upon completion and is valid for 180 days. You are required to file the certificate with your bankruptcy petition.
Taking a Post-Bankruptcy Debtor Education Course
You are also required to take a debtor education course after you file for bankruptcy. This is mandatory and upon its completion, you will receive the second bankruptcy certificate. For chapter 7 bankruptcy, this certificate must be filed prior to the forty-fifth day following the creditors meeting. In a chapter 13 case, the filing must occur no later than the date of your repayment plan's last payment.
Just like the credit counseling, you can take the course online or by phone. And similar to the previous course, you can apply for a waiver. The learning that takes place in the post-bankruptcy course is to help you have a more successful financial future.
The law states that the course is to be two hours long and should discuss managing your finances, including:
- Setting financial goals
- Creating and sticking to a budget
- Understanding your credit report and how to re-establish your credit
- Using credit sensibly
Contact Bruce W. White, P.C. for more information about bankruptcy today.