Bankruptcy Counseling Requirements
Authored By: Northwestern Legal Services
INFORMATION ABOUT THE NECESSARY CLASSES
Under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, there are now credit counseling requirements for those seeking to file bankruptcy. The requirements consist of two parts:
MANDATORY CREDIT COUNSELING
This is to be completed in the 180 day period prior to filing the bankruptcy case. Debtors generally will ONLY be able to file bankruptcy if they have the certificate showing completion of this class.
MANDATORY DEBTOR EDUCATION
This is to be completed within 45 days after the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors in the case. Debtors generally will receive a discharge ONLY if they complete this education course in personal financial management.
HOW DO I ENROLL IN THE NECESSARY CLASSES?
Your attorney will give you a list of the approved budget and credit counseling agencies. This list is also available on the website for the Bankruptcy Court at www.pawb.uscourts.gov.
1. CREDIT COUNSELING
If you are going to file bankruptcy, you should call one of these agencies right away to schedule your credit counseling class. You need not attend this class in person - you can complete the class on the internet or by telephone.
You cannot file the bankruptcy petition unless you file the certificate indicating that you have attended this class.
2. DEBTOR EDUCATION ~ PERSONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT CLASS
The second class is one that you generally go to in person. You should enroll in this class right away after you have filed bankruptcy. Again, ask attorney for information about the agencies that offer this class.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT ATTEND A CLASS WITHIN THE TIME PERIOD?
If you do not attend this class within the time period allowed, your case may be closed without a discharge being granted. Therefore, it is important that you follow through in completing these classes and be sure to communicate with your attorney about getting the help that you need to complete this requirement.
ARE THERE ANY FEES ASSOCIATED WITH THE CLASSES?
Each agency will assess your income and ability to pay for the classes. Generally, if you qualify and are receiving free legal aid, often the fee will be waived to take the credit counseling or the debtor education classes. Therefore, if you are a low-income individual and qualify for free legal services, be sure to inform the agency representative of this fact and inquire whether there will be a fee.
DOCUMENTATION OF THE CLASSES
After each of the classes, you will receive a certificate indicating that you have completed the class. You should get this certificate to your attorney right away so that s/he can file this with the Court. You can ask the representative at the agency where you take the class to fax each certificate directly to your attorney.
FINALLY, KEEP IN TOUCH
It is important that you keep in touch and communicate with your attorney throughout this bankruptcy process. Notify your attorney when you have completed the courses described in this brochure and also inform your attorney of any change in address or telephone number.
We have attempted to insure the accuracy of the information in this pamphlet at the time it was created or revised. However, the law does change, sometimes quickly and unexpectedly. Therefore, you should consult an attorney before taking or refraining from any action based on the information in this pamphlet.