Bankruptcy has many more steps than just submitting some paperwork and paying a filing fee, but I’ll make sure you don’t miss any of the important aspects or tasks of your case. Anyone who wants to file bankruptcy must first complete a credit counseling course. Rather than thinking of this as a pointless hoop to jump through, you may find that you gain some useful information that can help you as you plan your financial future.
The first class you’ll complete is a 60-minute online credit counseling course, which needs to be done within 180 days prior to filing your case. The Executive Office for the U.S. Trustees has compiled a list of approved agencies that offer this course. This gives you one last opportunity to decide if bankruptcy truly is the best choice for you. The class will have you look at and revise your budget and will give you ideas for saving money. You’ll also get more information about how bankruptcy works and some of the long-term consequences you may have to deal with after filing. After you complete this class, you’ll be issued a certificate of completion. Once you send a copy to me, I’ll submit it to the court; this needs to be done at least 15 days prior to the date that you file your case.
Wrapping Things Up
After you file, but before your debt is discharged, you must take a second course. This is a two-hour online debtor education class, and you can find a provider by checking the U.S. Trustees list. This course covers topics such as how to rebuild your credit, tips for recovering from bankruptcy, and ways to plan for saving and retirement. All bankruptcy filers must take this course unless they are on active duty in a military zone or cannot take the course due to disability or incapacitation.
Upon completion, you’ll receive a “a “Debtor’s Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Financial Management,” which I will submit to the court with Official Form 23. Spouses filing together must both take this course and will be issued individual certificates. If you’re filing a Chapter 7, these documents will need to be turned in within 45 days of your 341 meeting with your creditors. This is an important deadline to be aware of, because if you don’t submit your paperwork in time, the court could close your case. If that happens and you still want to file bankruptcy, you’ll need to pay a fee to reopen your case. I’ll ensure you have all the information you’ll need to complete this class in a timely manner. With a Chapter 13, you have more time and flexibility. The class must be completed by the time you make your last payment, which could be three or five years. I always encourage my clients to take this class as early as possible. Not only does this ensure it’s not forgotten, but you may also learn some great financial tips that can help you during your repayment period.
Building Your Future
While these classes may not be the most exciting way to spend your time, they truly will benefit you in the long run if you make an effort to get something out of them. You may be able to improve your credit score quickly and take what you’ve learned to help others.