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Maryland families should not have to live in fear of creditor harassment. That is why some people decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a way to discharge burdensome debts and make a fresh financial start. But if you are thinking of bankruptcy, you must first complete a session of credit counseling, or a court will not allow your case to proceed.

According to Nerdwallet, your credit counselor will discuss with you the advantages and disadvantages presented by bankruptcy. Before you file your bankruptcy petition, you should know what you are getting into and have an opportunity to discuss any concerns that you may have. Your counselor will also get into alternate means of resolving your debt, though in many instances people who entertain bankruptcy have no choice or have already worked through alternatives.

FindLaw explains that a pre-bankruptcy counseling session is not complicated and can be accomplished in about an hour. Bankruptcy counseling can be conducted by directly speaking to a counselor in person. However, if you are elderly and cannot leave your home very easily, or if distance is a problem, a credit counselor can accommodate you by conducting the session online or with a telephone call.

Credit counseling generally requires a fee. Amounts may vary, and can reach as high as $50. However, some people are on such a strict budget that even an amount of $20 is too much. If you are financially pinched to the point where you cannot pay a fee, you can seek a waiver and receive credit counseling for free. An approved counseling agency is required by law to provide waivers, so there should be free counseling available if you need it.

Once you have completed your counseling session, the counseling organization you have received counseling from will provide you with a certificate that shows you have finished your pre-bankruptcy counseling. You do not have to worry about a certificate charge. Under law, you cannot be charged for the certificate. You will then be ready to supply this certificate to the court as proof you have fulfilled the counseling requirement needed for bankruptcy.