Trustee Garcia’s free financial management course has been discontinued.

All bankruptcy debtors must complete two counseling courses – one in credit counseling in order to be eligible to file bankruptcy and a second in financial management in order to be eligible to receive a discharge.

For years, Trustee King (retired) and his successor Trustee Garcia have offered a free financial management course to Chapter 13 debtors who have been assigned to them.  I have not charged my Chapter 13 clients for the financial management course on the assumption that they would enroll in this free course.

However, on account of dropping attendance figured, this free course is being discontinued.  The last course will be held in Oshkosh next month.  Accordingly, those who have not yet completed the second counseling course (or those whose cases aren’t even filed yet) will need to take the course through a different provider.

Trustee Garcia’s Financial Management Course

As a policy, my clients who file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy are not charged for the second counseling course under the assumption that they will take the free version offered by Trustee Garcia’s office.  This policy has been in place almost as long as the course has been offered (back when Trustee King’s office implemented it) because it is (1) free and (2) better – in my opinion – than the online versions of the course that are available out there.

Due to declining attendance, Trustee Garcia’s office is considering discontinuing the course in the near future.  Although no final decision has been made yet, this is a possible and even likely scenario.  Those of you who have already filed your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case (Chapter 7 debtors are ineligible for the free course) but not yet taken the second counseling course, please do so immediately, before the program is discontinued.

Some 2017 dates have been announced.

Oshkosh location (Chapter 13 office):
Thursday, February 23, 2017             12:00PM – 4:00PM
Wednesday, April 12, 2017                8:00AM – 12 Noon
Monday, June 19, 2017                     12:00PM – 4:00PM
Friday, August 18, 2017                    8:00AM – 12 Noon
Thursday, October 12, 2017              12:00PM – 4:00PM
Monday, December 4, 2017               8:00AM – 12 Noon

Green Bay Location (NWTC):
Friday, January 13, 2017                    8:00AM – 12 Noon CC 145
Monday, March 20, 2017                   12 Noon – 4:00PM CC 145

Mail Solicitiations for Debtor Education Course

Most people who file for bankruptcy are required to complete two counseling courses.  One pre-filing “credit counseling” course, and a second post-filing “debtor education” (aka “financial management”) course.  The first course is required to be eligible to file for bankruptcy, the second course is required to earn your discharge.
Many people, after they file for bankruptcy, will receive letters from counseling courses attempting to solicit their services to newly filed debtors.  Do you need to pay attention to these letters?
If you have hired another attorney, perhaps.  If you’re not sure whether you have already paid for / taken your required courses, contact your attorney to verify.
If you have hired Holbus Law Office, LLC, the answer is no.  You can disregard those solicitations.
As part of our fee package, all of our Chapter 7 clients are automatically registered for their counseling courses, and will receive login instructions at the appropriate time.  All of our Chapter 13 clients are enrolled in the first credit counseling course.  Our Chapter 13 clients, however, are not charged for nor enrolled in the second counseling course because of the availability of a free (and frankly, superior) course offered by the Chapter 13 Trustee.

New Year Reminders

The first quarter of each year is hectic for most bankruptcy attorneys.  The number of filings tends to increase dramatically due to post Christmas credit card bills, higher heat utility bills, income taxes, property taxes, annual membership dues and other annual fees that often come due this time of year, and of course – all culminating with April 15 – the date Wisconsin Public Service, WE Energies, and Alliant Energy can disconnect Wisconsin customers who are delinquent on their utility bills.
Amidst the craziness, there are just a few reminders I’d like to pass along.

  • If you own real estate, previously sent in a copy of your 2011 property tax bill, and your case is not yet filed for any reason – be advised that your 2012 property tax bill is now required.
  • Chapter 13 debtors who have already filed bankruptcy – remember that when you file your tax returns, you must also send a copy of your returns to the Chapter 13 Trustee.  Some of you may also be required to send in 1/2 of your tax refund.  To see if this applies to you, refer to the most recent copy of your plan, or call your attorney to check your obligations.
  • Chapter 13 debtors who have already filed for bankruptcy – have you completed your financial management course yet?  For those of you assigned to Trustee Thomas J. King, please check his website for new date / time offerings.
  • Chapter 13 debtors who have not yet filed bankruptcy – file your tax returns as quickly as possible.  Even though they are not due until April 15, Chapter 13 cases filed after December 31, 2012 cannot be confirmed until 2012 tax returns are on file with the IRS and the state.
  • If you do fall behind on your utilities this winter, be prepared to file bankruptcy well in advance of April 15.  Do not wait until the last minute to file – you will not be the only person trying to avoid a power shut-off.

Do I have to take classes?

Yes. Under BAPCPA, all debtors are required to take a course in Credit Counseling before your bankruptcy case is filed. The course must be taken within 180 days of the day you file for bankruptcy. After your case is filed, you are required to take a second course in Financial Management (also known as Debtor Education). Failure to complete the second course can result in the denial of discharge.
There are plenty of companies nationwide that offer these counseling courses. Your attorney will often have an arrangement with a certified vendor so that you don’t have to hunt for one yourself. Most companies offer these courses over the phone or on the internet, and these courses usually take an hour or two.