Before filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Utah bankruptcy, you must meet certain eligibility restrictions and requirements, including completion of a bankruptcy credit counseling program.
Counseling provides debtors a chance to explore non-bankruptcy options for handling their debt load, such negotiating with lenders and working out informal repayment plans.
Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Is Required by Law
First of all, your bankruptcy attorney cannot get you out of having to complete credit counseling; it’s mandated by federal law. The U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires you to take a counseling course from an organization approved by the U.S. Trustee Program.
You must complete your course within 180 days before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. When you file your Utah bankruptcy petition with the courts, your certificate of completion of this course must be included.
If it isn’t, your case likely will be dismissed.
Obtaining Utah Bankruptcy Credit Counseling
Fortunately, the counseling process is quite simple. You can complete the course in person, over the phone or online.
A typical session lasts only about an hour or two, and includes an evaluation of your financial situation as well as a discussion about possible alternatives to filing for bankruptcy. The counseling agency also will create a personal budget plan based on your income and expenses.
Your bankruptcy attorney can point you toward government-approved counseling organizations. Or you can check the website of the Office of the U.S. Trustee to locate Utah bankruptcy credit counseling options. Courses typically cost around $50 or so, depending upon the types of services offered.
If you can’t afford the fee, don’t worry. Counseling agencies are required to provide the course free to anyone who is unable to pay.
Do You Have to Follow the Credit Counseling Plan?
The counseling organization may confirm that filing for bankruptcy is your only feasible option. Or, as they prepare your budget, they may develop a palatable repayment plan for handling your debt.
It is important to note that you don’t have to go along with the repayment plan suggested by the counseling agency. But you will have to file this plan with your certificate of completion, and there’s a chance that the courts could agree with the agency’s plan. In that case, the courts could try to push you into filing for Chapter 13, rather than Chapter 7, so that your debts can be repaid.
If this happens, your bankruptcy attorney can help argue your case.
The experienced attorneys at Lewis Adams and Associates can assist you with every aspect of the bankruptcy process, including meeting the credit counseling requirement. Contact our West Jordan office today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about your options and obligations for filing Utah bankruptcy.