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11 Situations Where You Need A Lawyer (And 3 Where You Don’t!)

11 Situations Where You Need A Lawyer (And 3 Where You Don’t!)

A traffic ticket is a legal matter. So is armed robbery. Obviously, the “accused” in both of these instances have very different situations and only one will need a lawyer to hand their defense. In between these two extremes, however, are a myriad of legal matters which may or may not require legal representation. It’s a good idea to know in which instances you should get a lawyer — and the ones where you don’t need one.

Two Legal Categories – A Short Explanation

  1. Civil Law: This area of law covers all legal issues that do not involve criminal activity or breaking the law. Generally, one party sues another because they have been “wronged” in some way and want some type of compensation for that “wrong.” Civil law also covers legal agreements, real estate transactions, divorces, child custody, and other matters where legal paperwork is necessary to protect all parties involved.
  2. Criminal Law: This area of law relates to offenses that break the laws of a local, state, or federal governments. The prosecution is handled by lawyers employed by the governmental entity, and the defense is handled by either a publicly appointed defender or a private defense attorney whom the defendant pays. In criminal law, there are misdemeanors (small offenses) and felonies (more serious crimes).

If you find yourself facing the legal system for any reason, you should probably understand that the best policy is usually to at least consult with an attorney – an honest one will provide a free consultation. They will tell you whether you will need an attorney and will either take your case or point in the direction of a lawyer who can best represent you. If the attorney takes your case, the fee will be approximated up front. In general, however, the following guidelines apply:

When You Should Get Legal Advice

1. A Complex or Nasty Divorce

When couples mutually agree on all of the details of a split, there is no real need for a lawyer. When, however, there are issues of property, investments, savings, support, debt, and child custody arrangements, only a fool neglects getting legal representation. The terms of a finalized divorce are very binding, and they can only be changed by going back to court. All of this can be avoided with a good lawyer up front.

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2. A Wrongful Termination or Discrimination in the Workplace

There are both state and federal laws at play here, and the average person does not understand them. Only an attorney who specializes in this type of law is really qualified to carry your suit into court. You can be certain that the other side will have very solid legal representation. You should too.

3. Law Suits

If you are being sued and the consequences of a loss may result in the loss of a good deal of money or property, you need a lawyer. Again, the other side has a lawyer, so you need to get one too. Most of these things are settled out of court, but you want an experienced negotiator on your side.

4. A DUI 

Driving under the influence (DUI) has become a serious charge. Consequences can include fines, jail time, loss of license, or any combination of these three. A good lawyer can meet with the prosecutor and get the charges reduced, especially if this is your first offense. Never go to court on a DUI charge without a lawyer — unless you are willing to accept the maximum penalty.

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5. Drug Charges

Defendants who have personally hired attorneys always fare better than those who do not or those who take a public defender. Remember, a public defender is on case overload, and will usually recommend a plea bargain that will be worse than what a private attorney could get you. If you qualify financially for a public defender, still try to find a friend or relative willing to pony up the money for a lawyer.

6. A Car Accident with Injury

If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, the other guy’s insurance company will be all over you to settle your claim as quickly as possible. Don’t do it. In fact, never talk to an insurance company representative until you have first consulted a personal injury attorney. You may not be familiar with the laws or the normal compensation rates, but seasoned attorneys are. If you are injured in car accident, don’t talk to anyone except to answer cursory questions from the police on the scene.

7. Criminal Charges

Facing any criminal charge is scary, and you may not even know your rights as an accused person. Get a lawyer immediately for protection of your rights and so that you are defended as well as possible — guilty or not.

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8. Wills and Trusts

Save your family from disputes and legal issues after you die. Set up your will or trust with a reputable attorney well in advance. Your first will should be set up as soon as you have a child and should be changed periodically throughout your life as circumstances change.

9. Business Startups

Whether you are going it alone, have a partner, or are setting up a corporation, never try to navigate all of the legal requirements alone. You need to be lawful and you need to be protected. Only a lawyer who specializes in business law can ensure these things.

10. Denial of Workmen’s Comp or Disability Claim

It is often the policy of such institutions to deny a claim the first time around. This is because they know a certain percentage of people will simply accept that ruling and give up. Don’t be one of those people. Get a lawyer up front – they will take the fee out of the settlement, so there are no up-front costs.

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11. Bankruptcy

You can’t get one without a lawyer, and they will want payment up front.

When You Don’t Need a Lawyer

There are really very few legal situations in which you will not need a lawyer, but here are a few:

1. Small Claims Court

This court is reserved for civil disputes that do not involve large sums of money, the cap being determined by individual states. Normally, this is an informal procedure – both sides tell their stories and the judge decides.

2. Traffic Tickets

Pay the fine and get over it. The only exception to this general rule is if the ticket will put enough points on your license to cause a suspension or if the offense is serious enough that your insurance rates will skyrocket. In these situations, a lawyer can get the ticket reduced to a non-moving offense and the only consequence will be a fine. Yes, our legal system does respond to one’s ability to pay.

3. Lawsuits That You Do Not Want to Contest

If someone is suing you and you know in advance what they are asking for and are willing to pay the amount, you can simply plead no contest, appear in court without an attorney, or not appear at all. If you don’t appear, a summary judgment will be issued against you.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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