The bankruptcy laws require a consumer debtor to complete an approved course in financial management as a prerequisite to receiving a discharge. This class is different than the credit counseling class required prior to filing your case. The financial management class curriculum must be approved by the Office of the U.S. Trustee and approved classes are required to last a minimum of two hours. Your bankruptcy attorney has a list of approved agencies, or you can find an agency by visiting the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust.
Once you complete the financial management course, you must file your certificate and Official Form 23 with the bankruptcy court. For Chapter 7 debtors, these forms must be submitted no later than 45 days after the date of the first scheduled meeting of creditors. Rescheduling or continuing your meeting does not change the 45 day timeline. If you miss this deadline, the court will close your case without discharge. Most courts will allow the debtor to reopen the case by paying a fee, file the certificate, and receive a discharge. However, you may incur additional attorney fees to reopen a closed case.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy debtors file the financial management course certificate and Official Form 23 no later than the date of the last plan payment. It is always recommended to take your financial management course within the same time frame as a Chapter 7 debtor (45 days). This reduces the risk of denial of discharge. Additionally, the financial management course provides budgeting information that contributes to a successful Chapter 13 case.
Hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney means that you get the benefit of a seasoned office staff with safe-guards and procedures to protect your interests. Your attorney will remind you several times during your case to complete the financial management course. However, taking the course is your responsibility. If you encounter any difficulty in completing the course, discuss the matter with your attorney as soon as practical.