Credit Counseling is a pre-filing a requirement under 11 U.S.C. § 9(h) for all people who have filed for bankruptcy. Debtor Education is also required under 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(11). These courses are available online, over the phone or in person and typically take about two hours. Only Credit Counseling Agencies approved under 11 U.S.C. § 111 can offer a valid course.
Douglas W. Neway, the Chapter 13 trustee, offers a free debtor education course to all Chapter 13 filers in the Jacksonville Division. These courses are held on every Monday (Holidays excluded) and run from about 2:00 PM to 4:30PM. At the commencement of the course the debtors are handed a Certificate of Debtor Education which their attorneys must file with the court. Considering that this course typically costs debtors about $30.00, I think it’s a fantastic idea to take it with the Trustee’s department for free (they let lawyers sit in for free too).
Now, not only does the course provide debtors with the necessary certificates at no cost, it also gives them the opportunity to ask the trustee (or members of his office) questions regarding practice and policies going forward. The trustee will not give legal advice to the debtors, but he can tell them what his office policies are. Considering that the debtors will be having direct contact with his office for five or so years, it only makes sense for them to be familiar with their office’s policies and procedures.
Debtors are also provided a workbook titled, “Personal Financial Choices” which has about a hundred pages of tips from managing a budget to building credit after the case is over.