Before your bankruptcy petition can be filed with the United States Bankruptcy Court, you must complete something called a “Credit Counseling Certificate”. A Credit Counseling Certificate is a course that a debtor can complete either online, over the phone, or through the mail, and it typically takes about 30-45 minutes depending on where you are getting the certificate from, and which way you are completing it. The agency you receive your credit counseling certificate from must be approved by the U.S. Trustee; if you are unsure of which agencies are approved, your attorney can assist you with finding an approved course. Costs for credit counseling certificates range from $10.95-$50.00, and typically require payment in the form of a debit card or pre-paid card. The courses offered online are typically much cheaper that the courses offered over the phone. The online courses can also be done at any time, whereas the courses offered over the phone are scheduled, and may not be as convenient for you. The purpose of a credit counseling course was designed to give debtors an idea of whether or not they need to file for bankruptcy, or whether a payment plan with creditors would be feasible to help get you bank on your feet. However, even if it is obvious that a repayment plan will not work for your situation, a credit counseling course is still required. Typically, a repayment plan will not work for individuals who have very high debt and low income, or for individuals who are facing balances on debts with very high interest rates and penalties. While a credit counseling course may suggest that you could benefit from a repayment plan, you do not need to follow the counseling’s recommendation. The requirement is only that you complete the course, not that you follow the suggestion of the course.
Once your case has been filed with the court, you are then required to take an approved financial management course. You must complete this course and have it filed with the court prior to receiving your discharge. Like the Certificate of Credit Counseling, the Financial Management course must be completed within 45 days after the date on which the meeting of creditors was scheduled. If you do not complete this course within that time frame, the court may close your case without a discharge. This means that you would have to pay attorney fees and court costs to reopen your case so that they certificate can be filed, and you can receive your discharge.
Please contact a St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney today if you would like to know more information about the bankruptcy process!