Why do I need an attorney?
Surveys have shown that the only about one-third of the people in this country ever see an attorney. Certainly some people have no need of an attorney; however,the vast majority of us should obtain legal advice at various occasions during our lives, and we would like to suggest some examples of situations where seeking legal representation would be an extremely good idea:
1. Most people should have a Will, together with durable powers of attorney and a living will. This is particularly important for families with minor children; for persons with even modest estates; and for all senior citizens. The reasons why you should have these documents is discussed in more detail on another page of this website.
2. If you have significant debt problems, you should consult an attorney skilled in bankruptcy law. Excess consumer debt is a major problem in this country; sometimes this is because people indiscriminately overuse their credit cards; but more often it is because people get laid off from their job, or become ill and have no insurance. The only effective way in which you can deal with problems such as a home in foreclosure, wage garnishment, or a lawsuit by a creditor is by talking to a good bankruptcy attorney
3. If you have elderly parents who exhibit signs of serious memory loss or may just need some assitance in handling their affairs, you should very strongly encourage them to see an attorney (and you may want to accompany them to the attorney's office). A critical portion of my consultation with your Parents (and perhaps with you) would be to plan for potential longterm care needs and preservation of their assets. This is particularly useful in a situation where one Parent suffers serious disabilities and the other Parent is generally in good health.
4. If you have significant assets and are entering into a second marriage, you should first see an attorney. Failure to do so may, if you die prior to your "new" spouse, result in all your assets going to the spouse and nothing to your children.
5. If you are older and have a significant estate, if may be wise to explore ways to avoid probate. As will be explained in another section of this website, probate is not as bad as some may paint it to be; however, there are some instances where it should be avoided, and there are some cost effective methods of doing so (such as a revocable living trust).
6. The biggest financial decision that most of us make in our lives is buying or selling a home. It is important that you consult an attorney before signing any sale or purchase documents. This is true whether or not you have a realtor. The cost to see an attorney in this instance would generally be limited to a few hundred dollars, and doing so can often save you a great deal of future problems.
These are some of the situations in which you should consult an attorney. It may be that you won't require legal representation; however, if you have any significant legal questions or problems, it would be foolish not to obtain knowledgable legal advice. Failure to get timely legal advice is not generally a life and death matter, but the lack of good legal advice could easily lead to severe financial and/or emotional problems