Do I Need a Debt Lawyer?

Debt Lawyer, Gavel & MoneyA debt lawyer is someone with the knowledge, credentials and skill to help someone struggling with debt sort through financial troubles. Debt lawyers can use their skills and knowledge of the law to serve as a negotiator when dealing with debt-related problems, such as working with creditors, bankruptcy and lawsuits that people can face from credit card companies and other lenders when they can’t pay their bills.

As the economy continues to slug onward, more people facing financial difficulties are turning to debt lawyers to fight back against aggressive debt collectors in court. If a debt collector is relentless in trying to recover money you owe but can’t afford to pay back, a debt lawyer is a good resource to understand your rights and provide a path to escape harassment or illegal measures from debt collectors.

A debt attorney has experience navigating through the legal system, making it more likely that you will be successful overcoming any legal obstacles you might face because of looming debt. A debt lawyer can help you determine the best route for you to work through your debt issues.

Can a Debt Lawyer Help My Court Case?

A debt lawyer is a useful tool if your debt lands you in court. Debt collectors can take consumers to small-claims court to recover money that you owe.

But consumers with no legal representation in court cases are often doing themselves a disservice. Defendants – or the consumers in debt – often face off against collection agencies without knowing their rights in these cases.

With a debt lawyer, a consumer involved in a court case with a debt collector likely will be treated with more respect inside the courtroom and will have someone with expertise by their side. They can review the case and make compelling arguments to the judge in your favor.

Also, a debt lawyer can determine quickly whether any illegal methods are being used by debt collectors to recover money. This is especially useful if you have experienced harassment or threats from debt collectors. A debt lawyer can help you prepare a lawsuit against a debt collector who has broken laws about when and how they contact you and if they made false or threatening statements to you.

What Can a Debt Lawyer Do for Me if I File for Bankruptcy?

A debt lawyer can also help you sort through a bankruptcy filing. The debt lawyer should specialize in bankruptcy and debt.

These attorneys can teach you the differences between filing a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and advise you on which filing would best suit your needs and particular circumstances.

With a bankruptcy, a debt attorney will help you prepare all the required paperwork you need in your case. They can answer your questions and give you a basic rundown on local rules and procedures in the courtroom.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Debt Lawyer?

When you are swamped with debt, hiring a lawyer can add to the pile of expenses you already have. With the right lawyer, however, your debt situation can be greatly helped and you can be put on the right financial track.

Many law firms provide free debt consultations. It is best to set up an in-person visit.

When you decide on a lawyer, get a list of all charges and fees in writing so you know what to expect to pay. In a debt settlement, a lawyer may have contingency fees, which means the lawyer receives a percentage of money you recover.

A debt lawyer can charge an overall flat fee for a straightforward process like a simple bankruptcy. A debt lawyer can also charge by the hour, with the rates varying on the lawyer’s experience level and knowledge of debt.

If the lawyer charges per hour, get a written estimate of the amount of time that the lawyer will need to complete the services.

In the end, you need to weigh the potential short-term cost of the attorney with the potential long-term cost of losing in court or losing out of court to a collection agency.

Bill Fay

Bill Fay is a journalism veteran with a nearly four-decade career in reporting and writing for daily newspapers, magazines and public officials. His focus at Debt.org is on frugal living, veterans' finances, retirement and tax advice. Bill can be reached at bfay@debt.org.

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