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Whether you are filing chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy in North Carolina, there are two courses required – one before and one after – in order to be in compliance and have your case approved. One is Credit Counseling and the other is Debtor Education. The Credit Counseling course must be completed prior to our office filing your bankruptcy petition. We can take all of your information and complete your bankruptcy petition but then we’ll ask you to complete the course within a day or two so we can file your course.
If we need to file your petition ASAP to stop a foreclosure, you can even take the course the same day because it doesn’t take too long to complete. The second required course is the Debtor Education course and we will ask you to take this course after we file your bankruptcy petition with the courts and it must be completed before your debts can be discharged.
Today I will discuss the second course. Here are five facts about the required bankruptcy debtor education course explained:
#1 Each bankruptcy filer must complete the debtor education course.
If you file personal bankruptcy – either chapter 7 or chapter 13 – jointly with your spouse, each of you will have to complete the course. Depending on the provider, you may be able to sit through the course together, but you each need your own individualized instruction and will have to earn your certificates individually. Usually the course fees will not be doubled so there will only be one charge for the debtor education course per household. We can help you find the lowest cost course that meets your needs.
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#2 The debtor education course is to help you make the most of your bankruptcy fresh start.
More properly, we refer to this course as a personal financial management course and it is intended to educate you on how to establish a budget for your household that takes into account all of your income and expenses so you don’t get in over your head with debt again. It’s all about learning to manage your finances responsibly in the future after your bankruptcy is discharged. We want you to make the most of the financial fresh start you get from your bankruptcy and encourage you to take this course seriously and not just as something to check off of your list.
#3 You may choose your own provider for your debtor education course.
Most courses are available online now rather than having to come in to complete the course in person. Sometimes we have bankruptcy clients that don’t have internet access – that’s okay – we will help you find a provider that will offer you the course over the telephone. If you need the course in another language, we can help you find a provider that offers multi-lingual services. Our North Carolina bankruptcy office has recommended course providers you can use, but you can always select a different one if you like, but they must be from an approved list. Here is a list of inactive providers to avoid.
- For the Eastern District of North Carolina bankruptcy filers, click here for providers, prices and contact information.
- For the Middle District of North Carolina bankruptcy filers, click here for providers, prices and contact information.
- For the Western District of North Carolina bankruptcy filers, click here for providers, prices and contact information.
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#4 You cannot take the two courses – credit counseling and debtor education - at the same time.
We frequently have clients ask if they can knock out both the courses at once to be done with it, but sadly the answer is a sound “no.” You can take them both within a short period of time, though, if you want to have done with it. One can be taken immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy case and the other can be taken immediately after. Or if you want to take a breather between the courses, that’s okay too as long as you understand you won’t receive your bankruptcy discharge without providing the debtor education certificate to our office and we will then provide it to the court.
#5 There are a few exceptions to the debtor education course requirement.
The most common exceptions to the requirement to take the financial management course are:
- You have a disability that somehow prevents you from completing the course.
- You don’t speak English and the language you do speak is one that a course is not offered in (but most common languages can be accommodated).
- You are on active duty in the military and are serving overseas.
- You are in jail. In this case, the person who has your Power of Attorney and filed bankruptcy on your behalf can also take the course on your behalf.
If you’re drowning in debt that’s become unmanageable and you want to discuss the fresh start that bankruptcy can offer contact the law offices of John T Orcutt – for a free consultation.