9 Times to Hire a Lawyer Immediately


Lawyers have a bad reputation in this country. And while hiring a lawyer can certainly be expensive, it doesn't mean they aren't a worthwhile investment. To be sure, most legal professionals get into the business to see that justice is done and people get the representation they need. If you have been putting off calling a lawyer for any of the following situations, rethink your actions. A good lawyer is well worth the money.

1. A messy or complicated divorce

Divorce is extremely common these days. Research shows that in the United States alone, one divorce occurs every 13 seconds. Even more sobering, an estimated 80 percent of couples are headed toward divorce within the first four to five years of marriage. If your marriage fails, you will hopefully be able to come to terms amicably using a mediator. But if that's not the case, and you are both butting heads over the separation of property, custody, and money issues, you need to lawyer up as soon as possible.

The terms you agree upon during the divorce are binding, and can only be changed by going back to court. To avoid this, and even more legal fees later on, find a great lawyer as soon as things look bleak. A lawyer can also help with a restraining order if things get really out of hand. (See also: How to Protect Yourself Financially During a Divorce or Separation)

2. You're being sued

For most of us, a lawsuit is something we see in movies and on TV, and that's about as close as we want to get. For the unlucky few, a lawsuit can bring the whole world crumbling down. Lawsuits can be frivolous, like patent trolls or blatant cases of opportunism, but sometimes they can be frighteningly serious. If you find yourself being sued, don't hesitate to call several lawyers and find the one best suited to your specific case. Many offer a free 30-minute consultation.

3. An injury resulting from an automobile accident

Whether you're injured, or someone else is (including a driver or pedestrian), you should get yourself a lawyer as soon as possible. For the most part, insurance companies want to get this all wrapped up quickly and efficiently, and that will mean a lowball settlement that could leave you seriously out of pocket due to medical expenses.

Again, talk to a lawyer that specializes in these kinds of cases. They will know the going rate for any injury you have sustained, and will fight to make sure you get what you're owed. Some of these lawyers won't even charge a fee upfront, but if they win, expect them to take a significant chunk of your payout. (See also: 10 Steps You Must Take If You've Been in a Car Accident)

4. An unjust workplace termination

This covers the gamut. You may have been let go due to a misunderstanding, or some kind of corporate political maneuver. Perhaps you were wrongly accused of theft, harassment, or any other kind of "termination with cause." You may have been laid off and are left hanging without the severance package you feel you are owed. Whatever the reason, if you feel you were unfairly dismissed, get yourself a lawyer and fight the decision. In most cases, you'll be much better off fighting this with an expert than on your own.

5. Starting a significant business venture

If you're just incorporating yourself for an Etsy store or some freelance writing, you'll probably do fine using an online service like LegalZoom. However, if you're entering into a partnership, have plans for rapid expansion, or see potential issues with copyrights and patents, you need to get a lawyer on board as soon as possible. There are lawyers out there that specialize in this kind of legal representation, and they know the business world inside-out. Spending a little money upfront can save you a fortune later on, especially if you hit a massive roadblock with a competitor or have a falling out with a partner.

6. Legal issues as either a tenant or a landlord

Whether you're renting out your own place, or you're renting as a tenant, you can get into some tricky and expensive waters. If you're a landlord and have awful tenants who are damaging property and not paying rent, get a lawyer. If you have a landlord that is ignoring serious issues with the property, including safety hazards and potentially life-threatening problems, get a lawyer. A skilled attorney that knows this area of the law can quickly help you resolve the problems. (See also: What Happens to Your Apartment When Your Landlord Gets the Boot)

7. Preparing an estate plan

No one likes to think about their own death, but creating a will, trust, power of attorney, or a complete estate plan is the only way you can guarantee that your final wishes are carried out. There are plenty of websites offering this kind of service — all automated, of course — but this can be a minefield that you may have trouble navigating. If you have some complex wishes for your estate, and a large family that will be depending on the assets you leave behind, you should bring in a professional attorney to help you create a plan that is buttoned up. Otherwise, you could leave a massive legal mess behind that could take years for your loved ones to battle in court. (See also: Here's What Happens If You Don't Leave a Will)

8. Declaring bankruptcy

Filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy (or chapter 11 if you own a business) is a scary proposition. It's also something you should not do without the help of a legal professional. You'll need to undergo credit counseling, pass a means test, and file all the required paperwork that will restructure your debts and get your creditors off your back. One wrong move can lead to the whole case being thrown out, so find a good attorney as soon as you realize you have to declare bankruptcy. (See also: 11 Steps to Take When Bankruptcy Is Your Only Option)

9. Trouble with the IRS

Make no mistake, if you have any kind of issue with the IRS, get help and get it fast. Very few people escape the vast and powerful reach of the Internal Revenue Service. Whether it's unpaid back taxes, major tax debts, oversights on your returns, or anything else that brings the IRS breathing down your neck, only a skilled tax lawyer will do. (See also: 10 Reasons You Should Really Fear an IRS Audit)

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