By: Merideth Nagel, Esq.
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Financial Counseling Requirement for Debtors Filing a Bankruptcy Case
People seeking bankruptcy protection must receive credit counseling and debtor education from a non-profit agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office prior to filing a bankruptcy case. Once the case is filed, you also need to complete a debtor education course. A Clermont bankruptcy lawyer guides debtors through the legal process and helps them remain in compliance with the bankruptcy laws.
Credit Counseling and Debtor Education
Individuals are required to receive credit counseling within 180 days of filing a bankruptcy case. The U.S. Trustee’s Office provides a list of non-profit agencies that are authorized to offer credit counseling. Many agencies give debtors the option of taking the 90-minute credit counseling course in-person at one of their offices, online or on the phone. It is also common for agencies to offer the course in English and Spanish. Once you have fulfilled the requirement, the agency gives you a certificate verifying that the course was completed.
Debtor education is another financial counseling requirement that must be taken after the bankruptcy case is filed. If you filed for Chapter 7, the debtor education course must be completed within 60 days of the date set for the meeting of creditors. Chapter 13 debtors need to take the course before they finish the repayment plan. If the certificate of completion for the debtor education course isn’t filed in a timely manner, the court may refuse to issue an order of discharge.
Exemption to Credit Counseling Requirement
In rare cases, a debtor may be exempt from taking credit counseling if he doesn’t have access to an agency within his residential area. A debtor may also claim an exemption if he is mentally incapacitated, physically disabled or on active duty in the military and currently serving in a combat zone.
When debtors aren’t able to obtain credit counseling prior to filing the bankruptcy petition, they need to explain the extenuating circumstances to the court. If the bankruptcy court decides the debtor didn’t give a valid reason for not fulfilling the credit counseling requirement, the case may get dismissed.
Consult a Clermont Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you are dealing with an overwhelming amount of debt, contact a bankruptcy attorney in Clermont. Merideth Nagel, P.A. Attorney at Law uses expertise to help many of her clients resolve their debt problems and get a fresh start. Call the law office today at 352-404-4634 or 877-580-6868 to schedule a consultation.