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Do you have to get debt counseling before bankruptcy?

You can file for bankruptcy if you meet the requirements. Of course, whether you should file for bankruptcy is another matter entirely.

To decide whether bankruptcy is right for you — and how exactly you might go about it — there is a mandatory credit counseling step. You must also complete debtor education after a successful filing.

What is credit counseling?

As explained by the FTC, credit counseling is a prerequisite to filing for bankruptcy. You will need to present a certificate proving that you completed it.

Fortunately, you probably will not have to take too much time out of your schedule to complete this requirement. It generally takes about an hour, during which time you would probably discuss the following:

  • An analysis of your finances
  • A plan for your personal budget
  • Any alternatives you might have to bankruptcy

There is no in-person requirement for these meetings. If the counseling agency provides such a service, you can have your session online or on the phone.

What is debtor education?

Getting your credit counseling is a prerequisite for filing for bankruptcy. Debtor education is a prerequisite for your debt forgiveness.

Similar to credit counseling, you should get a certificate when you complete your debtor education. Keep in mind that you need an educator who works with the judicial district in which you filed for your bankruptcy.

Generally, bankruptcy courts seek to establish practical plans that balance the interests of your lenders against your own needs. With what you learn in credit counseling and debtor education, you should have the preparation you need to make those plans work as effectively as possible, securing your future success.

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