The laws, codes and rules governing bankruptcy procedures are complicated and intricate in detail. This guide is not intended to serve as a “how to” manual, nor is it intended to advise debtors of their legal rights or responsibilities under bankruptcy. The purpose of this guide is simply to shed light on some common misconceptions and answer frequently asked questions posed to the Clerk by debtors filing bankruptcy without the assistance of legal counsel (Pro Se). A Pro Se Debtor is responsible for all proceedings of their case.
UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
NOTICE TO INDIVIDUAL CONSUMER DEBTOR UNDER § 342(b)
OF THE BANKRUPTCY CODE (Form B201)
In accordance with § 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, this notice: (1) Describes briefly the services available from credit counseling services; (2) Describes briefly the purposes, benefits and costs of the four types of bankruptcy proceedings that may be commenced; and (3) Informs the debtor about bankruptcy crimes and notifies that the Attorney General may examine all information supplied in connection with a bankruptcy case. Debtor(s) are cautioned that bankruptcy law is complicated and not easily described. Thus, debtor(s) may wish to seek the advice of an attorney to learn of rights and responsibilities should they decide to file a petition. Court employees cannot give legal advice.
1. Services Available from Credit Counseling Agencies
With limited exceptions, § 109(h) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that all individual debtors who file for bankruptcy relief on or after October 17, 2005, receive a briefing that outlines the available opportunities for credit counseling and provides assistance in performing a budget analysis. The briefing must be given within 180 days before the bankruptcy filing. The briefing may be provided individually or in a group (including briefings conducted by telephone or on the Internet) and must be provided by a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency approved by the United States trustee or bankruptcy administrator. The Clerk of the bankruptcy court has a list that may be consulted of the approved budget and credit counseling agencies.
In addition, after filing a bankruptcy case, an individual debtor generally must complete a financial management instructional course before they can receive a discharge. The Clerk also has a list of approved financial management instructional courses.
2. The Four Chapters of the Bankruptcy Code Available to Individual Consumer Debtors
Chapter 7: Liquidation
Chapter 13: Repayment of All or Part of the Debts of an Individual with Regular Income
Chapter 11: Reorganization
Chapter 11 is designed for the reorganization of a business but is also available to consumer debtors. Its provisions are quite complicated, and any decision by an individual to file a chapter 11 petition should be reviewed with an attorney.
Chapter 12: Family Farmer or Fisherman
Chapter 12 is designed to permit family farmers and fishermen to repay their debts over a period of time from future earnings and is similar to chapter 13. The eligibility requirements are restrictive, limiting its use to those whose income arises primarily from a family-owned farm or commercial fishing operation.
3. Bankruptcy Crimes and Availability of Bankruptcy Papers to Law Enforcement Officials
A person who knowingly and fraudulently conceals assets or makes a false oath or statement under penalty of perjury, either orally or in writing, in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to a fine, imprisonment, or both. All information supplied by a debtor in connection with a bankruptcy case is subject to examination by the Attorney General acting through the Office of the United States Trustee, the Office of the United States Attorney, and other components and employees of the Department of Justice.
WARNING: § 521(a)(1) of the Bankruptcy Code requires that debtors promptly file detailed information regarding creditors, assets, liabilities, income, expenses and general financial condition. Bankruptcy case may be dismissed if this information is not filed with the court within the time deadlines set by the Bankruptcy Code, the Bankruptcy Rules, and the local rules of the court.