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New Year Resolution #1: Get Informed about Your Options

You’re stuck. Very unhappy about your financial predicament but don’t know where to turn. So, resolve to get help in finding a solution.


Where You Now Stand

You’re scared and not feeling very hopeful. Your financial problems are overwhelming you. They have taken over your life, worrying you constantly. You may be feeling mad at yourself, feeling guilty for having messed up, frustrated, angry and at times just sick and tired of it all.

You have probably been trying to improve your situation for many months, more likely for years. It’s impacted your personal relationships. The anxiety is affecting your health.  It’s battering your self-esteem. It’s challenging to take care of your basic daily needs. It hurts to think about the long-term responsibilities that you aren’t making progress on, like retirement savings.

What You’d Like

Financial peace. A “normal” life, one in which you can afford what’s important to you. One in which you are not worrying constantly. One you can be hopeful about. One in which there is joy in each day, and a future to look forward to.

Take the First Step

You may be feeling the truth that, as Franklin Roosevelt famously said to America in the midst of the Great Depression, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” You may have heard about some possible ways out of your dilemma, ways of negotiating down your debts or getting rid of some or all of them through bankruptcy. And part of you wants to look into these options. But for various reasons you’ve avoided doing so.

The next part of the quote above from Roosevelt about fear refers to it as a “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” You need to get around this paralyzing fear by taking the first simple but crucial step: ask for help.

From Fear to Knowledge

Ask for help from an attorney who is dedicated to helping you solve your financial problems. And asking for this help is usually free, at least for the initial meeting.

Most attorneys who help people deal with their overwhelming debts do not charge for their initial meeting with you. At this meeting you will usually have the opportunity to tell the attorney about your situation, your concerns, your hopes and goals. The attorney will usually be able to outline your most likely legal options, along with each of their main advantages and disadvantages. You will sometimes be able to decide which option is best for you within that first meeting, or at least will get a much better understanding of some of your better options.

But Don’t You Just “Get What You’re Paying For” with a FREE Initial Consultation?

Most attorneys who help consumers and small businesses with debt problems do not charge for their initial meeting simply because the market demands that they don’t.

Sure, it’s partly a marketing tactic: attorneys bank on the likelihood that once somebody takes the trouble to meet with them that person will get comfortable with them and will more likely hire them if they need an attorney.

Then there’s the reality that when you are in financial trouble you don’t have money to spend on shopping for an attorney. So you’re fortunate that most attorneys don’t charge for that chance for you to check them out and get advice from them.

Furthermore, most of these attorneys really care about you. Most attorneys who get into the field of helping consumers deal with their debts care about people and want to help them. They spend their working days doing this, and are actually motivated at finding the best solution for every client that they are hired by.

What to Look For and to Look Out For

Just because you have an initial consultation with an attorney, you have absolutely no obligation to continue working with that attorney. Be very clear in your own mind that you are shopping for information, and maybe for an attorney to help you. And you’re doing so with high objective and subjective standards.

On the objective side, did the attorney listen carefully to you to get the facts about you and your finances? Did he or she present your options clearly, and answer your questions about them in an understandable way? Do any of the options presented appear to meet your goals?

On the subjective side, was the attorney considerate, treating you like a human being and not just a “case”? Did you feel like your concerns were heard and addressed directly, that your goals were respected? Did the attorney seem very knowledgeable and confident, but not overbearingly so? Were you comfortable with him or her? Did you feel you could trust him or her? Did you feel like you and the attorney were a good fit?

But Aren’t Attorneys Just Going to Make You File a Bankruptcy Case?

No, that’s not their job.

First, attorneys are legally and ethically required to represent YOU, to advise you of your options, and their advantages and disadvantages to you, regardless of any financial self-interest of the attorney. They can be sued for malpractice for giving bad advice, or could lose their law license. And that’s true even for free initial consultations.

Second, an attorney’s job is to lay out the options so that YOU can make an informed decision. The attorney doesn’t tell you what to do; that’s your choice. Sure, he or she is to  advise you, and usually to make recommendations, strongly or otherwise. But not to make you do anything. If any attorney were to put any uncomfortable pressure on you, stop working with that attorney and find one who respects your role as the decision-maker.

The First Step

If we are in your part of the world, give us a call to meet with us. If you live somewhere else, do some quick research on the internet to find one or two local attorneys who seem appealing to you, and arrange meet with one or more of them. You can find out a fair amount on attorneys’ own websites and on their profiles in internet attorney directories.

You will almost certainly come away from your initial meeting infinitely better informed about your options, and very likely feeling much better about being able to find the relief that you need.

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