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Bankruptcy counseling and education requirements

New Jersey residents thinking about filing for bankruptcy might be interested to learn about the credit counseling and debt education requirements for individual debtors. Before filing for bankruptcy, debtors are required to attend pre-bankruptcy counseling. After the individual has filed for bankruptcy, he or she must attend a debtor education course. Both the counseling session and the education course can be completed online, by phone or in person.

The required credit counseling session will take around an hour to an hour and a half and cost about $50. Counseling organizations that are approved by the U.S. Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program are the only organizations that can provide the qualifying certificate of completion of credit counseling an individual will need to file for bankruptcy.

After the person has filed for bankruptcy, a debtor education course must be completed before debts can be discharged. Similar to the counseling requirement, the course must be completed at a provider that is approved by the U.S. Trustee Program. The course may cost up to $100 and will take longer than the credit counseling session. Individuals who are unable to pay the fee for the counseling or education may be eligible to have the fees waived.

When deciding whether or not to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, speaking with a bankruptcy law attorney can be a good first step. An attorney may be able to assess a debtor’s unique situation and set forth all of the available options. If it is then determined that filing for bankruptcy is the best solution, the attorney can guide the client through each step of the process to ensure that the maximum debt relief benefits are obtained.

Source: Federal Trade Commission , “Filing for Bankruptcy: What to Know“, September 14, 2014

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