You must receive budget and credit counseling from an approved agency within 180 days before your case is filed. The agency will review your possible options available to you in credit counseling and assist you in reviewing your budget. Different agencies provide the counseling in‑person, by telephone, or over the Internet. You then file a certificate from the agency with the bankruptcy forms which states that you received the counseling.
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I will coordinate this for you. Why? Because many agencies are legitimate, but many are simply rip‑offs. Being an “approved” agency for bankruptcy counseling is no guarantee that the agency is good. It is also important to understand that even good agencies won’t be able to help you much if you’re already too deep in financial trouble.
Some of the approved agencies offer debt management plans. This is a plan to repay some or all of your debts by sending the agency a monthly payment which is redistributed to your creditors. Debt management plans can be helpful for some consumers. For others, they are a terrible idea. Many agencies will pressure into a debt management plan as a way of avoiding bankruptcy even if it does not make sense for you.
It is a good idea to consult with me before receiving the required credit counseling. Unlike a credit counselor, who cannot give legal advice, I can discuss whether bankruptcy is your best option. If it is not the right answer for you, I will offer a range of other suggestions. I can also provide you with a list of approved credit counseling agencies, or you can check the United States Trustee Program’s Web site.
For things you must NOT do, please read Bankruptcy Mistakes.
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