ALERT: As part of a multi-year court project to modernize the Official Bankruptcy Forms and make them more consumer-friendly, the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules has recently revised most of the consumer bankruptcy forms (several had already been revised in 2013 and 2014). The changes became effective on December 1, 2015. The revisions involved reformatting, renaming, and renumbering the forms, and in a few instances, combining two forms into one. You can find the new forms here: www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms. We are in the process of revising all of our articles to comport with the new forms. Check back soon.
Before you get a discharge in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a debtor education course and file a certificate stating that you’ve complied with this obligation. The certificate is called the Debtor’s Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Financial Management.
Read on to learn more about this predischarge requirement and how to complete the Certification.
(To learn about the other forms you must file in Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)
The Predischarge Debtor Education Requirement
You must take a personal financial management course (also called debtor education) after you file for bankruptcy but before the court will order the discharge of debts at the end of your bankruptcy. You must take the course from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee or, if you live in Alabama or North Carolina, by the Bankruptcy Administrator.
To learn more about this requirement, including how to find an approved provider, time deadlines for filing the certification in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and more, see The Predischarge Counseling Requirement in Bankruptcy.
Exceptions to the Debtor Education Requirement
There are several exceptions to this requirement. You don’t have to complete the debtor education course if:
- there are no courses available in your district (this is rare)
- your disability or incapacity makes it impossible for you to take the course, or
- you are on active duty in a military zone.
For details on each of these exceptions, see Exceptions to Bankruptcy’s Predischarge Counseling Requirement.
Getting the Certification Form
You can find the most recent version of the Debtor’s Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Financial Management on the U.S. Court’s website at www.uscourts.gov. To learn more about getting the official and other forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.
Completing the Certification
The instructions on the Certification are fairly self-explanatory. If you are filing jointly, both you and your spouse must file separate forms. Note that even if you qualify for an exception to the debtor education requirement, you must still file this form. In that situation, you check the box that corresponds to the exception that applies to you.
This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to ensure you make well informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.