Lexington Debtor Education Attorney
Filing for bankruptcy protection requires people to jump through a lot of hoops. One of the most important was put in place by the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) in an attempt to inform and educate consumers. Under BAPCPA, individuals who wish to file for personal bankruptcy must get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within 180 days before filing and must also complete a financial education course. These requirements apply to people filing Chapter 7 (liquidation), Chapter 13 (individual reorganization with unsecured debt below$383,175 and secured debt below $1,149,525), Chapter 12 (similar to Chapter 13 for distressed family farmers and fisherman), or Chapter 11 (individual reorganization without any unsecured debt limitation).
With over 35 years of experience in our community, the Fayette County bankruptcy lawyers at Bunch & Brock are committed to providing each of our clients with a high level of personal service. We are dedicated to helping those in our community make the best plan for eliminating or repaying their debts. We understand each step necessary for filing a successful bankruptcy petition and know how to evaluate whether filing bankruptcy is the right path for you. If you are burdened with debt, you need the calm competence of a skilled legal team in your corner. We encourage you to contact our office by calling 859-254-5522 or filling out this online form.
Pre-bankruptcy Credit Counseling
Credit counseling cannot be done at the same time as debtor education. It must come before the filing, and once you complete it you will receive a numbered certificate as proof that must be included with your petition. If you are filing for joint bankruptcy, you may attend the same counseling session, but you each must be given personalized counseling and be issued separate certificates. The certificates are distributed only by credit counseling organizations that have been approved by the Department of Justice’s U.S. Trustee Program..
You can check the list of approved credit counseling agencies online or at the bankruptcy clerk’s office for the district where you will file. Kentucky has an Eastern District and a Western District. The Eastern District, home to Fayette County, currently has approximately 60 providers listed, several of which offer services in Spanish as well as English.
The session with an approved counselor lasts about 60 to 90 minutes and can take place in person, on the phone, or online (if not done in person, there is a verification process to make sure the person is, in fact, the debtor). By law, the counseling must include at least:
- An evaluation of your personal financial situation – current debts, creditors, income, etc.
- A discussion of alternatives to bankruptcy – you may be eligible for other avenues, such as a consolidation loan. However, the choice is yours. The counselor is not allowed to advise whether or when to file bankruptcy.
- A personal budget plan – money management skills, debt avoidance, etc.
The mandatory credit counseling comes with a fee of around $50, but the approved agencies must offer sessions for free to those who cannot afford it. Fee-waiver policies vary by agency. At a minimum, however, a client whose household income is less than 150 percent of the poverty level is presumptively entitled to a fee waiver or fee reduction.
Post-Filing Debtor Education
After you file a proper bankruptcy petition, it cannot be granted until you successfully complete a personal financial management instructional course. As with the pre-filing credit counseling, there are approved debtor education agencies (about 70 in the Eastern District of Kentucky) that issue completion certificates; joint filers can take the course together; and the session can take place in person, on the phone, or online. However, the debtor education course usually takes longer (two hours) and costs more ($25). Waivers can be requested. Among other topics, the course includes information on:
- Managing money
- Using credit wisely.
We Can Help
Anyone can find himself struggling with debt and the need to make difficult economic decisions. Each situation has a unique set of facts and the best course of action varies, depending on where you live, how much property you have, how much debt you have, and what type of bankruptcy you wish to file. The sooner you speak with a lawyer, the sooner you can find out what your options are and get a fresh start. For more detailed, specific information, consult the Lexington, KY bankruptcy lawyers at Bunch & Brock by calling 859-254-5522 or filling out this online form. You can rely on us for accurate, honest case analysis and dedicated representation. We have helped countless individuals get the relief they deserve given their personal set of circumstances, and we can help you.