Filing for bankruptcy isn’t as easy as simply filling out some paperwork and waiting for your debts to be discharged. Instead, it’s a process that has many requirements such as counseling and education. Credit counseling happens before you file for bankruptcy, as a certificate of credit counseling must be submitted with the application. Similarly, a debtor education must occur after the filing. Sound complicated? This is why so many people trust the expertise of a Tampa bankruptcy lawyer to guide them through the process.
Considerations for Bankruptcy
Though credit counseling is a requirement for bankruptcy, there is no “official” provider that you must go to. Instead, it’s the filers’ responsibility to complete the credit counseling on their own and acquire a certificate as proof. Unfortunately, not all credit counseling agencies are created equal and there are even some scams that prey on those struggling financially. Choosing a credit counseling agency is as important as choosing your bankruptcy lawyer.
Credit counseling prepares you for working with a lawyer during the filing and helps you understand what you need to expect. Reputable credit counseling advises you on:
- Managing your debts
- Developing your budget
- Credit score considerations
Just as a bankruptcy lawyer is trained to guide you through the bankruptcy process, credit counselors are certified in consumer credit, money management, debt, elimination, and budgeting. Many credit counseling agencies will also suggest a Debt Management Plan – or DMP. A DMP is designed to help you eliminate your debt. However, it is not the right option for everyone. Be sure to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer before enrolling in a DMP to ensure you’re following the plan that’s best for you.
When choosing a credit counseling agency, ask questions such as:
- What services do you offer? A reputable credit counseling agency will not only be credited in the services they offer, but offer a wide range of services that help your financial profile.
- What’s the cost? Whether there’s an initial or monthly fee, get it stated in writing.
If you’re unsure about a credit counseling service, ask your bankruptcy lawyer for advice.