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How to Lose Your Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge for Want of Two Hours and a Piece of Paper

In 2005, Congress changed the bankruptcy laws to require that every person filing bankruptcy must complete a debtor education program and obtain a certificate of completion in order to get their discharge.

This class must be taken after your bankruptcy is initiated (it takes all of two hours), and a certificate of completion must be filed with the court within sixty (60) days of your meeting with the trustee, or you will not get a discharge!

How People Screw This Up!

What I often see happen with my New Jersey clients is that they procrastinate on taking the class.  They file their bankruptcy and figure they have plenty of time, since it is often 45 days before they meet with the trustee and then another 60 days after that for them to take the class.

Next thing they know the deadline has passed, and there is a problem.  That is why I always recommend that my clients take the class before the meeting with the trustee, so that the paperwork can be filed, and they know it is taken care of when they go home from the meeting.

What Happens When the Deadline Passes

If the deadline passes, and a certificate of completion is not in the hands of the court, your case will be closed without discharge.  At that point, your only option is to make a motion to reopen your case so that you can file the paperwork.

The filing fee is $260, plus the fees to your attorney for doing the work.  Oh, and in the meantime, those creditors that were after you can now continue with their collection efforts because there is now no longer an automatic stay to stop them, or a discharge to wipe out the debt!

So What Do I Do?

If you have filed bankruptcy, do yourself a favor and don’t put off the debtor education class.  You put a lot of time and effort in with your attorney to file this bankruptcy; don’t jeopardize your fresh start by putting off the one thing that needs to be done to “seal the deal.”

If you live in southern New Jersey and have not filed bankruptcy yet, but are considering it, please feel free to call me at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.

If you are looking for more information about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.

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Steven J. Richardson
Bankruptcy, Collections, Student Loan, DUI and Traffic Court attorney in Woodbury, NJ.