When filing for an individual bankruptcy, you need to complete credit counseling and debtor education. The two are distinct and fulfill different purposes. Some question the need for both and may even find themselves confused. What is the difference between credit counseling and debtor education?
The most obvious difference is that credit counseling is completed prior to filing while the debtor education course is meant to be completed after filing.
Basics Regarding Credit Counseling:
- Credit counseling is to be completed no more than 180 days before (and not less than 24 hours before) filing for bankruptcy.
- Credit counseling has to be completed through an approved agency.
- Most credit counseling agencies offer opportunities to complete the session by phone, Internet or in person.
- Cost for the session typically ranges from $25 to $50.
- When filing jointly, both of you should attend the session in order to only be charged one fee.
- Successful completion of the session will result in a certificate from the agency that you’ll need to provide to you bankruptcy attorney for your filing.
Basics Regarding Debtor Education:
- This course needs to be completed in order to have your debts discharged so it’s highly recommended that you get it completed as soon as possible.
- Upon completion of the course, you’ll receive a certificate of completion that your bankruptcy attorney will need to submit to the court within 45 days after the meeting of creditors (Section 341). The Section 341 Meeting of Creditors takes place within 30 to 60 days after you file for bankruptcy.
- Debtor Education courses are typically taken by phone or Internet.
- Cost for this program ranges from $11 to $25 depending upon the provider.
- Again, to save money, married couples filing jointly should complete the course simultaneously.
- You do not need to use the same agency for debtor education that you use for credit counseling.
To find a list of approved agencies for both credit counseling and debtor education you can access this website: www.usdoj.gov/ust.
If you find yourself in financial distress, please don’t hesitate to call the experienced bankruptcy attorneys for southern California, Westgate Law attorneys.