Sometimes you may receive an offer for a free weekend in Florida, if you attend an “information session” extolling the virtues of a timeshare.  Pre- and post-petition bankruptcy debt counseling is similar, except that no one is trying to sell you a timeshare.

The oddly-named Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) requires that consumers obtain debt counseling both before and after filing their voluntary petition in either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Counseling can be completed online, and services are available in English and Spanish.  The pre-petition requirement is debt counseling, which must have been obtained within the six months prior to filing.   Post-petition financial management counseling must be obtained within 60 days prior to discharge in a Chapter 7, or no later than the last payment date in a Chapter 13.

If you take that trip to Florida, our advice is to sit quietly through the sales pitch and then enjoy the sunshine.  The same advice applies to your debt counseling.  Sit quietly through the sessions, and then enjoy your discharge.