What to Expect in Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling

The decision to file bankruptcy is not an easy one to make. Many people experience enormous distress, shame and embarrassment over their financial difficulties. Without question, declaring Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is no minor decision. But it just may be the right one for you. Especially if you cannot see any way of paying off your debt in the next 5 years.

Mandatory Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling.

Before you can file for bankruptcy, however, you must complete mandatory credit counseling and receive a certificate. Once you have completed the counseling and have your certificate, you must file it with the court along with your other bankruptcy forms. Credit counseling is mandatory. If you do not file a certificate of credit counseling with the court, the bankruptcy court will dismiss your case.

But why do you have to do mandatory credit counseling?

Its purpose is to ensure that bankruptcy is your only best option. In 2005, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) in response to the fact that many people who were financially capable of repaying their debts were using bankruptcy to have those debts discharged. This new law completely overhauled the bankruptcy law and made a number of important changes to bankruptcy rules and procedures. One of these changes was the requirement that debtors complete credit counseling both before filing bankruptcy and prior to discharge.

The purpose of pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is to provide an impartial look at whether or not a debtor really needs to file for bankruptcy.

The Where, When, and What of Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling.

Pre-bankruptcy credit counseling may be the most painless part of bankruptcy. It can be done in person, by phone, or online; and it usually doesn’t take more than a couple of hours.

The most important thing to remember is that you must complete the counseling before you file for bankruptcy. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that is valid for 180 days. If you decide to file for bankruptcy, you will need to file that certificate with the court.

For your counseling session, you will want to bring with you (or have available) information about your debts and your income.

The counselor will discuss your financial situation with you and will talk to you about what non-bankruptcy options you may have. Counseling will most likely include:

  • A thorough review of your personal finances
  • A discussion of alternatives to bankruptcy
  • Personal budget plan.

The counseling will help you to understand how bankruptcy works and what you can do to avoid financial risk in the future.

We’ll Walk You Through it!

If you are concerned about whether or not you should file for bankruptcy, or have questions about what happens if you decide to file for bankruptcy, give us a call. We offer free consultations. We are experienced bankruptcy attorneys with offices in Tigard, Salem, Albany, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Bend, and several other cities in Oregon. We also have offices in Vancouver and Tri-Cities in Washington. You can call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Bankruptcy and Credit Counseling

There are certain requirements that must be met before you can file for bankruptcy. The government wants to make sure that you know exactly what you are getting into, so you have to complete a credit counseling course before you can go through with a bankruptcy filing. There are certain organizations that offer this course that are approved by the federal government. We have offices in Vancouver and Kennewick in the state of Washington, and we also have locations spread throughout the state of Oregon. There is a list of approved credit counseling course providers on the website of the United States Department of Justice, and you can click one of the following links if you would like to identify a credit counseling course provider: Washington credit counseling and Oregon credit counseling. Under federal guidelines, the course must be successfully completed less than 180 days before the bankruptcy filing.

Finishing the credit counseling course is just one of the requirements that must be met if you want to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is a liquidation bankruptcy, and it allows for the discharge of your unsecured debts. If you can rid yourself of debts like credit card balances and unpaid medical bills, you may be able to keep up with your other responsibilities more comfortably. To qualify for this type of bankruptcy, you must have limited disposable income. A means test is applied to determine whether or not you qualify for Chapter 7. If your income is less than the median income in your state, you qualify automatically. However, it may still be possible to qualify for Chapter 7 if the state determines that your disposable income is very limited.

In addition to the credit counseling course, there is another educational hurdle that you must cross when you file for bankruptcy. Debts cannot be discharged until you complete a debtor education program, and once again, you can obtain a list of approved course providers if you visit the U.S. Department of Justice website.

Act Now to Regain Control of Your Finances!

Our firm can help if you are struggling under a mountain of debt that you simply cannot manage. We offer free, no obligation case evaluations, and you can set up an appointment that conveniently fits into your schedule if you call us right now at 800-682-9568.