Hiring an attorney is one of those things many think of as a last resort, or perhaps they associate needing to hire a lawyer with encountering serious legal trouble. In fact, there are a number of different reasons you might need to work with an attorney, and if it’s cost you’re worried about, keep in mind that a lawyer can often save you a lot of money as well as a lot of headaches. It’s good to fully understand the consequences in various situations of proceeding with and without legal counsel to decide whether it’s the right decision for you.
Situations When You Need to Hire a Lawyer
Filing for Bankruptcy
You don’t have to hire an attorney if you’re filing for bankruptcy. With a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can fill out the forms yourself and submit them to the court for a filing fee of just a few hundred dollars versus what may be upwards of $1000. Reading this might make you wonder why anyone would then hire a bankruptcy attorney, especially in a situation like this where money is tight, but there are actually several good reasons to do so.
Even if you have a straightforward Chapter 7 bankruptcy with few assets, understanding the process and filling out the forms can be onerous. Worse, if you make even small errors in the filing, it could be rejected and you might have to resubmit it. Many people don’t actually have a straightforward bankruptcy situation even if they think they do, and there are potential complications, particularly if you are trying to protect assets. At a minimum, you may want to consult one or more bankruptcy attorneys, which you can usually do for free or just a little money.
Getting Into Real Estate Investing
Real estate is a great long-term investment. You’ll be able to draw passive income from the rent your tenants pay. However, there is still plenty to consider before you take the big step of putting your money toward your first property. A limited liability company may be the best way to manage your income and your legal obligations as a landlord. You may want to consult a lawyer about forming an LLC, whether it would be the best solution in your situation and how to go about it.
Since it’s easy to get forms online that help you create an estate plan and some states will even accept handwritten wills, you may wonder whether it’s worthwhile hiring a lawyer to create your estate plan. There are many reasons why a lawyer may be the best choice. Estate law is complex, and you don’t know what you don’t know, meaning that there could be important aspects of it that you overlook. You may have forgotten about an old beneficiary designation you filled out long ago for a life insurance policy that has an ex-spouse on it, or you might not realize how you need to structure your will to make sure that children from an earlier marriage get a portion of your estate.
You may not realize that a special needs trust is the best way to pass assets to a disabled loved one. Another common problem when it comes to estate planning is small errors that could invalidate your will or make its interpretation ambiguous. The stakes can be high for a poorly prepared estate plan, leading to your wishes not being carried out or your family getting wrapped up in a long, costly, and stressful court battle.
Facing Criminal Charges
It’s not a situation most people ever expect to find themselves in, and for those who do, you might assume they would definitely want to hire an attorney. However, not everyone does, often because they cannot afford one but occasionally because they believe they can do a better job in their own defense. You have the right to a court appointed attorney who may do an adequate job defending you, but if you have the money, you may want to consider hiring a private lawyer.