The best New Year’s resolution for improving your life: Find out your legal options for tackling your debts, and then act on what you learn.
Don’t cheat yourself by being left in the dark. Find out your options. Then get real peace of mind by conquering your financial distress.
Attorneys providing free initial consultations are ethically and legally bound to give you advice that serves YOUR best interests, even if you are paying nothing for that consultation.
New Year’s resolutions are about making your life better. The most important qualities of a good life may be free, but they are almost all adversely affected by financial instability. Your physical and mental health, your marriage and family relationships, your daily peace of mind, your ability to earn a living, your hopes for your future and that of your family, your reputation, and your self-respect—all these free and priceless qualities of life can be severely harmed by the stresses and hard realities of being overwhelmed by debt.
So make and keep the New Year’s resolution that will improve more of your life than any other: find out your legal options are for dealing with your debts, and choose and act on the right one for you.
Avoid avoidance behavior. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to dealing with your debts. If you do not find out the real answers two things will almost certainly happen. #1: You will worry unnecessarily about some things. #2: You will NOT know about other things that will hurt you. So you will spend a lot of emotional energy without doing yourself any good.
When you share your situation with an attorney, he or she will 1) help you prioritize your goals, 2) explain your practical options, 3) describe the advantages and disadvantages of adopting each one of them, and 4) make recommendations about how to meet your goals. Instead of living every minute in the scary fog of the unknown, that fog will lift so that you will see a realistic path forward.
Nothing is free in life, and you get what you pay for, right? So there’s got to be a catch when you get free advice from an attorney about your options, such as:
1. You think that the attorney will persuade you to file bankruptcy or to follow some other procedure to make his or her “free” time worthwhile.
Not true. Attorneys are legally and ethically required to give you advice about what is in YOUR best interest. They can get into serious trouble for giving you bad advice, or for serving their own financial interest instead of serving you. Also, THEY do not make the decision for you to file bankruptcy or to take any other action—you must make that decision yourself, after getting their advice and recommendation, and getting it explain to you clearly.
2. You think that the attorney will make you hire him or her to represent you.
Not true. The decision whether or not to hire any attorney, or whether to hire a particular attorney, is absolutely up to you. The attorney is obligated to honestly tell you whether a particular recommended course of action should be done through an attorney or can be done without one. And he or she can explain why he or she is an appropriate choice if you do decide to get an attorney. But again those decisions are always left to you.
The simple reality is that a certain percentage of clients who come to initial consultations with an attorney DO need legal representation going forward, and a good attorney will be hired by enough of those people to make the free consultations worthwhile to him or her. So, most attorneys who work with consumers have adopted free initial consultations as a way to attract new potential clients, knowing that only some of the people will need an attorney and will hire him or her. So a free consultation is a good way both to get real legal advice and to get introduced to an attorney in case you decide you need one.
Deciding whether to file bankruptcy is an economic and moral choice. The only responsible way to make this choice is to thoroughly understand your options. You will understand your options and can chose among them wisely with the guidance of an experienced attorney. Then you can do the right thing—for you and for everybody involved.