In order to file bankruptcy in Seattle, every debtor must complete a credit counseling course. The second circuit recently announced that a bankruptcy may be commenced without the debtor first completing the required credit counseling course.
Even though a debtor may file a bankruptcy case and get the benefit of the automatic stay, they still must complete the credit counseling course before receiving a discharge of all debt. Additionally other circuits may have a different interpretation of the federal rules so it would be best to complete the credit counseling requirement before filing your case. Talk to a bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction to learn when you should take your class. Here in the Western District of Washington I tell all of my clients to take the required credit counseling class prior to me filing their case. If you need to file an emergency bankruptcy filing to stop a foreclosure or a garnishment of your wages your bankruptcy case may need to be filed immediately and you may not have time to complete you class prior to filing. With that said most credit counseling classes only take 20 minutes to an hour to complete and the cost ranges between $5 to $35 on average so there is really no excuse for not completing the course prior to filing.
In the Western District of Washington if you do not file your certificate at the time of filing, the clerks office will immediately issue a warning message that this class needs to be completed or your case will be dismissed. Usually they give you a day or two to comply with this order and most people are able to oblige the clerks office within that reasonable time frame. Once the first credit counseling class is complete, debtors have to take a second “financial management course” prior to receiving a discharge of their debts. In chapter 7 cases, a discharge is usually given within 90 days of filing, although it will be held back if you haven’t paid your filing fees or if you have not taken your second credit counseling class. I always remind people to take this class after we complete the court appearance, which is called a 341 meeting of creditors, to ensure that a discharge will be entered by the court at the earliest time which is about 90 days from when the bankruptcy case was filed.
If you have additional questions please visit the Symmes Law Group homepage to speak to Western Washington bankruptcy attorney.