According to the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (2005), a person filing for bankruptcy must undertake a pre-filing bankruptcy counseling program from an agency approved by the Executive Office of the US Trustees (EOUST). This counseling program must be taken within 180 days prior to filing for bankruptcy. After filing, the person must receive a debt discharge education to get his debts discharged. Upon completion of the counseling, a bankruptcy counseling certificate will be issued, and this must be submitted along with the filing petition.
Facts about Bankruptcy Counseling Education:
- The bankruptcy counseling must be done within 180 days prior to filing
- It should be taken from an EOUST-approved agency.
- One session of bankruptcy counseling takes 60-90 minutes
- A fee of up to $50 may be charged
- The counseling may be done in person, by phone, or via the internet
- In a situation where the individual cannot afford the counseling fee, a waiver may be obtained
- On completion of counseling, a certificate is issued that should be presented for filing
Questions to Ask a Bankruptcy Counselor:
- What kind of services are offered?
- What are the fees?
- If I cannot afford the fees, what is your feed waiver policy?
- Do I have to pay anything in advance?
- Are the fees monthly?
- What is the basis for the fees?
- Do I have to sign a contract with the agency?
- Will an oral agreement do?
- What are the counselor’s qualifications?
- Has the counselor received a certificate or training from an approved organization?
- Will my personal information be kept confidential, and how?
- Will you provide any financial study material?
- Will I have to pay anything extra?
- What is the source of your funding?
- How soon will my case be taken up?
- Is the agency a non-profit one?
- Is there any proof for the agency being non-profit?
- Will I get a credit counseling service?
- Is the agency approved by EOUST?
- Does the agency also offer legal assistance?
- Will my case be handled by one counselor or many?
- Is the agency State-licensed?
- Will the agency handle my collection calls?
- What are the advantages of credit counseling?
- How long will my session last?
- What are other alternatives to a bankruptcy filing?
- Will the agency provide me with a budget plan?
- Will the agency give me a repayment plan?
- How long has the agency been doing bankruptcy counseling?
Questions for your attorney on the Repayment Plan:
- What is the process for debt repayment?
- Considering my present situation, how long will it take to repay my debts?
- What amount should I pay monthly?
- How do I know if my creditors get the payment on time?
- What if I cannot afford the monthly payment?
- Which debts are excluded from the repayment plan?
- Can I use my credit cards?
- Which of my assets can be retained?
Many more such questions can be asked and clarified by your counseling agency. However, be sure to ascertain all facts, weigh the pros and cons, and then decide whether filing for bankruptcy is necessary for you.
When ready, you can start a bankruptcy counseling session