My elderly dad came to the United States from Cameroon a decade ago. He speaks a little English, but mostly speaks French. He doesn’t have health insurance and has a large amount of medical bills. He wants to file for Capter 7 bankruptcy. It should be a simple case and I can help him with the paperwork, but he needs to get the required credit counseling. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. Are there counselors at the approved agencies that speak French?
Yes, the U.S. Trustee’s Office has a list of approved credit counseling agencies that provide services in French. In many states, French-speakers will have to get this counseling over the telephone or the Internet. But your dad can get credit counseling in person – there is an approved credit counseling agency in Brooklyn, New York with French-speaking counselors.
The Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Requirement
Anyone filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy must participate in credit counseling – in person, over the phone, or online – within the 180-day period before filing for bankruptcy. After participating in the session, the counseling agency will provide the debtor with a certificate of completion; the debtor must file this with his or her bankruptcy petition or within 15 days of the bankruptcy filing. (Learn more about the credit counseling requirement for bankruptcy, including the rare instances when a bankruptcy filer does not have to get counseling.)
Finding a Credit Counseling Agency That Offers Services in French
In order to meet the bankruptcy requirement, your father must get counseling from an agency that is approved by the Office of the United States Trustee. You can find a list of approved agencies, by state, on the U.S. Trustee’s website. If you click on your state, you’ll find an extensive list of providers – but these counseling agencies only provide services in English and Spanish.
To find a list of providers that have French-speakers, scroll down to the section that says “Approved Agencies Offering Services in Languages Other Than English or Spanish,” and then choose “French.” New York state has quite a few agencies that provide counseling in French, including one in Brooklyn. In many other states, however, French-speakers will have to get counseling over the telephone or through the Internet – both are sufficient to comply with the bankruptcy requirement. In fact, if your father would prefer to get counseling by telephone, that option is available to him as well.