Filing for bankruptcy is not an easy decision. For many, it’s their only option for getting the debt relief they need to start fresh and move forward in their lives. But even if you are sure bankruptcy is right for you, it can still be a confusing and intimidating process. There’s a lot required of you when you file. One of the most important responsibilities you have is meeting your education and counseling obligations. People who file for bankruptcy must participate in financial and bankruptcy counseling sessions before receiving a debt discharge.
The good news is counseling sessions aren’t that time-consuming. They also tend to be one of the least painful parts of the bankruptcy process. Many people even find the session helpful and use what they learn to keep their finances on track in the future. And for some, pre-bankruptcy counseling alerts them to the fact that bankruptcy might not be their best option.
What should you expect from bankruptcy counseling?
Pre-filing Bankruptcy Counseling
Once you’ve spoken to a bankruptcy attorney, your next step is to complete your pre-filing counseling session. You are required to complete this session and your case will be dismissed if you are unable to prove you completed the course.
The purpose of pre-filing counseling is to present to you the alternatives there are to filing for bankruptcy. The intention is to not talk you out of filing for bankruptcy. Instead, it helps you ensure you’ve been informed of all of the available options. For many people who choose to file, these options have been exhausted or might not be the best route for them. However, the bankruptcy court wants to be sure you know about these options in advance.
Additionally, the course reviews the pros and cons of filing and lets you know about local resources that might be available to help you. Sometimes these resources offer a better option for getting out of debt. But even if bankruptcy is right for you, it’s good to know your options.
Most people who reach this point still go through with their bankruptcy, but it’s important to take one last opportunity to consider where you are and what you can do to relieve your debt.
The next counseling obligation comes well after your bankruptcy process has begun but before receiving your bankruptcy discharge. This is pre-discharge counseling and it’s the final step before the court finalizes your bankruptcy.
The goal is to provide those who are completing bankruptcy information about how to manage their finances going forward. The counseling focuses on income, expenses, and strategies to help you save and avoid future financial problems.
The course can be helpful, but for those who found themselves filing because of job loss, medical bills, or other uncontrollable circumstances, it might be familiar information. Still, it’s required and it never hurts to review money management, even if your bankruptcy was out of your control.
Final Thoughts on Bankruptcy Counseling
You’ll need to attend counseling sessions that are approved by the Department of Justice. Your bankruptcy attorney can help you find and enroll in eligible programs. You can find more information about approved class options here.
Sessions last about 90 minutes to two hours. You’ll pay about $25 to $50 for the courses, so make sure to account for these expenses when calculating the cost of filing for bankruptcy.
To learn more about bankruptcy counseling or to speak to someone about whether bankruptcy might be right for you, contact the bankruptcy Law Office of Robert M. Geller at 813-254-5696 to discuss your situation.