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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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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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