Is Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Mandatory?

As of 2005, pre-bankruptcy credit counseling is a mandatory requirement when filing for bankruptcy in Illinois. This means that you will need to enroll in a counseling program that has been approved by the Department of Justice's U.S. Trustee Program before you can file your petition with the court. Should you fail to do so within the 180 days leading up to your personal bankruptcy, your case could be rejected or dismissed. For this reason, it is extremely important that you consult a Chicago bankruptcy attorney from the Law Office of Joseph P. Doyle before filing your petition. In doing so, you will be able to ensure that you are not only adequately prepared for the process ahead, but that you will not be forced to experience any unnecessary delays.

It is important to understand that credit counseling differs from debtor education, as one must be completed before you file and the other must be completed before your debt has been discharged. Pre-bankruptcy counseling can be completed in person, online or over the phone, and it will typically cost about $50 for a 60 to 90 minute session. If you cannot afford to pay the fee, however, the counseling organization is required to provide the service for free. All you will have to do is ask for a fee waiver before the counseling session begins. After that, you will be expected to discuss some of the possible alternatives to bankruptcy, develop and personal budget plan and evaluate your financial situation. When you are done, you will receive a certificate of completion.

Since the certificate must be included in your bankruptcy petition, it has been recommended by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that you check the U.S. Trustee's website to make sure that the certificate is provided by a counseling organization that is approved in the judicial district in which you will be filing. Choosing the right credit counselor can be extremely important, so you should not hesitate to gather information about various organizations before choosing one. When calling, you should ask questions about the services that they offer, the fees that they charge, the qualifications of their counselors, the manner in which they secure consumer information, etc. Although counseling is a mandatory requirement, your time should be well spent.

If you need help choosing the right counseling organization or you are unsure of whether or not a certain program has been approved by the U.S. Trustee's Office, you should not hesitate to get in touch with our Chicago bankruptcy lawyer today. Not only will we walk you through all of the pre-bankruptcy requirements that you will need to fulfill, but we will help you to complete them in a timely manner. Call our office today at (312) 957-8077 or submit a complimentary bankruptcy evaluation form online to learn more.