The Bankruptcy Code requires you to complete a credit counseling course before filing your petition. Don't worry, you won't need to go to a classroom and listen to an instructor. I will order this for you and provide you the information on how to access the course online or over the phone. The course usually takes about an hour and a half to complete. So, what will you need to know?
First of all, you will need an email address. I cannot order the courses if you do not have one. I have had a few clients who did not have an email address, but I will be happy to help you set up one if necessary. If you do not have internet access, you can complete the course by phone.
The credit counseling course will ask about your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses. Assets are just a list of your personal property and real estate. You don't need to itemize everything you owe, far from it. But, you should make a list of any real estate, cars, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and insurance policies. This will also be helpful in filing out your petition, as I will need to enter this information when we meet. Keep your list. Assets are important in bankruptcy because they must be accounted for and exempted. As long as you disclose and exempt your assets, you will not lose anything in the bankruptcy.
Liabilities are your debts. I will run a bankruptcy credit report for you, but you don't need one to list your debts for this portion of the course. You will be asked about secured and unsecured debt. Secured debt is any debt "secured" by property, such as a car or a home. If you don't pay, the creditor can come and take the security (through repossession or foreclosure). Unsecured debt includes credit cards, medical bill, utilities, student loans, etc. When you don't your credit card, they can't just come and take what you bought. You will be asked to list each type of debt, so it is worthwhile to know the difference.
Once you have listed your assets (property) and liabilities (debt) , you will need to review your household income and expenses. You will basically submit a budget. For purposes of the course, you should try to determine monthly averages. For instance, your heating bills may fluctuate wildly depending on the season. It is best in these situations to try to figure out your yearly expenses, and divide that number by 12 to determine an average. The numbers will thus be estimations, but that will be sufficient. If you have set expenses (rent, car payments, etc.) determining the amount will be more simple and straightforward.
To determine your income, you should list all sources of money in the household. This includes regular and part-time work, self-employment, Social Security, child support, government assistance, unemployment, or even household contributions form those living with you. When in doubt, count it as income.
Contact us if you have any difficulty in completing your course. It should be pretty simple if you have the above-listed information.