Bankruptcy involves a fair amount of detail work before filing the bankruptcy. It also involves a bit of homework by the person filing. These are some helpful links to websites about bankruptcy.

Where is bankruptcy court?

Bankruptcy court is part of the Federal Court system. The Federal Court system has “Districts” that determine cases in a specific area of the United States. In Washington, there is a Western District for the Puget Sound area. There is an Eastern District for the Spokane area. Bankruptcy Court is a part of the these Districts. These are links to the different bankruptcy courts in the Western District.

There is a courthouse in Seattle at the new Federal Courthouse on 700 Stewart Street, Seattle. There is also a courthouse in Tacoma at 1717 Pacific Ave., Tacoma.

Generally, you will only need to go to court once for the meeting of creditors. This is frequently called the “341 hearing.” It is a time set for creditors to ask you questions if they would like to. In most cases, no creditors appear, and the meeting is over in about 5 minutes. The bankruptcy trustee also asks you questions. The bankruptcy trustee is the person the court appoints to investigate the bankruptcy and to make sure that people that are owed money are paid the money they are owed, if possible.

Debtor education and credit counseling.

You will need to take two different types of classes before you complete your bankruptcy–one before you file and one during the bankruptcy. These are mandatory, but they aren not difficult to complete. The first class is called the “credit counseling” course. There is a list of approved organizations that provide this course. The second class is called the “debtor education” course, and you have to take that after you file the bankruptcy case. In both cases, you generally can take the classes either over the phone or online. The organizations that give the class will charge you a fee for the class, but generally they will charge you based upon a sliding scale. In some cases, they will not charge a fee at all.

Once you complete the class, they will send you a certificate by email or by fax. They can mail it to you as well. These certificates will need to be filed with the bankruptcy court.

This is a link to U.S. Trustee approved organizations for the credit counseling classes:

This is link to questions and answers about the credit counseling class:

This is a link to the U.S. Trustee approved second class, or the “debtor education” class:

This is link to questions and answers about the debtor education class.

Credit Reports

Credit reports are collections of information about a person’s credit history and credit scores. Almost everyone will have a credit report with the three main private companies that provide these reports. It is important to get these reports before filing a bankruptcy, so you can know who all your creditors are. Fortunately, there is a program to obtain a free copy of your report through the Federal agency called the Federal Trade Commission or “FTC.” This is the link to their website.

This is the link to the actual Federal program. There are other sites that offer free credit reports, but this is the Federal program. You are entitled to one free credit report per year for each of the three main credit reporting programs.

This is the link to the Federal Trade Commission’s website that talks about the program.