Choosing the Best Divorce Lawyer

•April 9, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you are in the position of looking for a divorce lawyer then there are steps you need to take; some guidelines on what to look for are listed below:

  • Skilled in this area of law
  • Know which standpoint to take
  • Be reliable

The best attorney to employ is one who, for at least half their time, is dealing with divorce cases and is fully skilled in mediation techniques. It also follows that you feel comfortable with them and feel confident they will serve you well.

Mediation minded attorneys are more likely to give you problem solving advice, whereas traditional attorneys tend to be more oriented to conflict and their advice tends to be adversarial. Some of the work load will be yours so you need to ensure you are well prepared each time you speak with your divorce lawyer and know exactly what they need from you and vice versa.

Costs are always an issue so write down everything you want to ask and in a logical order always making sure there is an accurate record of times dates and the duration of conversations. Keep a record of all correspondence and conversations and try where possible to have conversations on the phone which will reduce the amount of time required to see them in person.

Regard your attorney as a resource, not someone you depend on for emotional support because they cost too much for you to use them for sympathy and consolation; besides, you have family and friends for that. The behavior of your spouse, unless pertinent to the divorce, is of no concern to your divorce lawyer and will only distract them from the task at hand.

Let your lawyer know from the start that you will be in charge of the case and they are there for legal advice and not as someone to lean on when things start getting rough. It is important they know any decisions regarding the divorce are yours to make and they are there for their knowledge and experience in providing legal recommendations. As the person paying for their service, you should expect to be sent copies of any relevant documents and if there are any issues that need to be clarified that a prompt response by them is expected.

If money is an issue, it may be a preferable for you to only contact a lawyer for legal advice on a marital settlement but not representation. You may decide to carry out research first before you contact them, only asking your lawyer questions you have not been able to find answers too. If the break up is relatively amicable then a marital settlement might be the better option and the use of a divorce lawyer could be restricted to just help with this task.

(ArticlesBase SC #375458)

What you Need to Know About Lawyer Advertising

•April 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

You need to know a few things about lawyer advertising. For example, if you look through the yellow pages you’ll see that the ads placed by attorneys all say essentially the same thing. Very few of them actually give good useful information to make it easier for you to choose a good lawyer for your case. Although the yellow pages are a good place to get names of attorneys, you need to be aware of the following points when it comes to lawyer advertising:

There is no rule which requires that the lawyer have a minimum amount of experience handling the case which the lawyer wants to advertise.

Although the bar association has rules that govern lawyer advertising, it usually does not actively investigate, restrict or determine whether each lawyer who advertises is a specialist or has experience with the type of case being advertised. This means a lawyer can advertise that she is a “divorce lawyer” or “personal injury attorney” when that lawyer may have limited experience or knowledge of that area of the law.

There are virtually no restrictions on the different types of law that the lawyer wants to advertise. Therefore, you should be extremely careful about choosing an attorney based solely on that attorney’s advertising claim, whether the ad is in the phone book or on television.

Any attorney can buy a big slick ad in the yellow pages. The phone book company typically does not verify the claims that are being made in the ad. In many cases the phone book company does not even verify that the person is a licensed attorney in good standing! Use caution.

A lawyer who advertises does not mean that that lawyer will be handling your case. Some lawyers simply run advertisements and then refer outmost or all of the clients to other lawyers to do the work in exchange for a referral fee. Such a lawyer essentially acts like a referral broker. Be especially cautious of ads placed by out of state attorneys. Because of state licensing requirements, these attorneys will usually have to refer the case to a lawyer who is licensed to practice law in Washington.

A lawyer who purchases full page ads in the yellow pages, or pays for slick T.V. commercials, does not necessarily mean that the lawyer is super successful. Some lawyers who pay for such advertising operate a “volume practice” for the purpose of making just a little money on the numerous cases that are generated from the ad. Many times a “volume practice” attorney tries to settle all or most of the cases to earn the most amount of money in the least amount of time. The only time you may see this lawyer is if his face appears in the ad!

Some lawyers who run big ads to fill their “volume practices” will rarely even work on a case. These lawyers farm out every aspect of the case to a paralegal or legal assistant. The only time the lawyer may even look at your case is after it has settled and the lawyer wants to collect his fee!

Be cautious of lawyer ads that create unjustified expectations. For example, if the lawyer advertises that he can obtain “Fast Settlements in 30 Days” he probably never goes to trial and settles cases for far less than what they are actually worth. In most cases, good settlements take time and effort.

Sometimes the lawyer’s advertising can negatively affect your own case. If your case goes to trial and jurors recognize your lawyer from his advertising, it may undermine your lawyer’s credibility during trial. Do you want jurors to remember your lawyer as the one who can get “BIG MONEY DAMAGES!!” or “FAST SETTLEMENTS $$$” for pain and suffering?? Jurors watch television, too, you know.

Lawyer TV Ads: A word to the wise
Did you know that there are companies that offer prewritten and pre-shot TV commercials for personal injury attorneys? You’ve probably seen one. Sometimes a famous actor is used (like Robert Vaughan, William Shatner or Eric Estrada). Other times an attractive man or woman is shown speaking behind a desk or holding a legal book or doing something else to act like a lawyer. The person says something like, “If you’ve been in an accident, get the money you deserve. Speak to an attorney for free. Call 1-800-XXXXXXX.” What you need to know is that many times your call is routed to a call center that randomly sends your call to the next attorney “in line.” The next one “in line” is an attorney who has actually paid a hefty fee to be on the “list.” Any attorney with enough money can pay to be on the list, including attorneys who have never tried a case in court. Many times the attorney who has paid the fee is not necessarily the most experienced lawyer for your case. Now I’m not saying that all attorneys who use TV advertising are inexperienced. But you should not rely on TV advertising alone when choosing a lawyer. Just a word to the wise.

Case Study: T.V. Personal Injury Lawyer Fails Client
Here’s a sad story about a lawyer who advertised on T.V. in Rochester, New York. The attorney, Jim Schapiro, ran aggressive T.V. commercials which promised to obtain large financial settlements for victims, referred to himself as “the meanest, nastiest S.O.B. in town,” and claimed to have aggressive courtroom prowess. Schapiro, who called himself “The Hammer,” had law offices in the states of New York and Florida.

In 2002, one of Schapiro’s clients, Christopher Wagner, sued Schapiro for malpractice. Mr. Wagner had been injured in a car accident and had responded to one of Mr. Schapiro’s television ads. Mr. Wagner alleged that he had incurred medical bills of $182,000 but that Schapiro’s firm advised him to accept a settlement of only $65,000 from the driver and then promised that he could get more money by filing suit against the state of New York. It turned out that the state had no liability for the accident and Schapiro never pursued Mr. Wagner’s case further.

In a video deposition, Jim Schapiro testified that he had never tried a personal injury case in court and that he had been living in Florida for the last seven years. Mr. Wagner’s attorney also discovered that Schapiro’s Rochester law firm staffed just one lawyer who had only tried four cases. A New York jury found that Schapiro had engaged in misleading and deceptive advertising and that he committed malpractice. Schapiro was ordered to pay $1.5 million to Wagner.

Consequently, in 2004 Schapiro was suspended for practicing law for one year by the State of New York. In 2005, Schapiro was then suspended from practicing law in Florida for one year. In 2004, four additional clients sued Schapiro alleging that he had engaged in misleading advertising and had committed malpractice. Thereafter Schapiro stopped practicing law and instead now writes books for injury victims.

(ArticlesBase SC #190619)

Outsourcing Internet Marketing

•April 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Small and medium sized companies and start ups realize how difficult it is to manage the business and make sure all the processes run smoothly. Not only does it require tremendous amounts of work but diligent efforts as well. Business owners or entrepreneurs are supposed to manage certain parts of a business like financing, product creation, and promotion in order to be successful in the market. However, small time companies or start-ups need to manage their businesses entirely on their own i.e. they need to take care of everything alone by themselves. And this might as well require them to work through the whole day and still find time to do the regular chores of the day. As a result, many small time business owners look out for cost effective ways to have certain business processes to be taken care of by third party professionals.

Here are some popular processes that are outsourced…

Accounts
One of the most popular processes that is outsourced is the accounting works. It not only saves you a great deal of time but also makes sure you get accurate and speedier processing of the account documents. This is especially useful if you are not very well versed in financial matters and tend to waste a lot of time and effort in researching about legal issues and tax laws.

Internet Marketing
Online marketing is yet another popular area that is outsourced to third party service providers. Outsource internet marketing services provide businesses with immense benefits and provide a significant increase in their profits. Internet marketing more effective and productive than offline marketing. And if you have experienced professionals at the job, there is no turning back for you.

Business enterprises have established strategic relationship with professional IT outsourcing service providers so that they can achieve their internet marketing objectives. Online marketing gets especially easy for professional service providers because they have ample experience of the job. And since it is their prime area of work, they concentrate on it and try to achieve designated results.

And because of the global economic crisis world over, the offshore service providers have cut down their prices significantly. This means you will be able to get internet marketing services for quite a bargain rate. There are several outsourcing providers listed on the web. All you need to do is go online and search for one that fits your budget and understands the basic needs and requirements of your business. There are also many freelancers who offer their online marketing services. However, the problem with freelancers is that they do not come with a guarantee. There is always a risk that the individual is not dependable and can cause damage to your business and company by doing some dishonorable practices such as spamming or posting unsolicited commercial ads in areas where they are not supposed to do so. They can just go underground and you may not be able to trace them again.

This risk is completely eliminated with professional IT outsourcing companies. Because they are businesses themselves, they have a sound physical presence and market reputation to take care of. And they would not indulge in any unethical practices.

(ArticlesBase SC #1436197)

What Exactly Is a Paralegal and What Services do Paralegals Provide?

•March 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Many people consider paralegal to just be another word for lawyer. In reality, this is not the case at all.

A paralegal is actually more of a lawyer’s assistant; they are not authorized to give legal advice, contrary to popular belief. They are, however, trained to do many of the tasks which lawyers themselves would normally perform. By having a paralegal available to perform certain tasks such as drafting documents or performing legal research, the lawyer’s time is freed to work on other projects. This allows the lawyer to devote professional time to more substantative topics, and it is also more cost effective for the client, as the paralegal’s time is usually billed at a lower hourly rate than the attorney’s.

Paralegals have a strong background in the way the legal system works, which allows them to act as a virtual assistant for a lawyer. The line between and paralegal services and those tasks that should be performed by a lawyer often differ between firms and areas of practice. It should be noted, however, that paralegal opportunities are available in every practice area, as listed below, giving paralegals the ability to shape their careers to fit their individual lifestyles and goals.

In addition to being trained in various practice areas, paralegals are also employed in a variety of settings. The most common employment setting is a law firm. Paralegals are employed in firms ranging in size from sole practitioners to firms with a global presence. Also employing paralegal services are corporations with in-house legal departments. And finally, some paralegals choose to work for a variety of companies on a contract basis through their own freelance paralegal operation.

Therefore, one of the many perks of being a paralegal is being able to find the right combination of practice area(s) and employment situations so that you’ll develop an enjoyable and fulfilling career which is uniquely your own.

So You Want To Be A Paralegal?

If you have always enjoyed the legal system, but are not ready (or able) to commit to the necessary schooling to become a lawyer, a career as a paralegal may be perfect for you. From Honolulu HI to Rochester NY, and paralegal services are always being sought by a wide range of companies. This normally makes job opportunities plentiful no matter where you choose to live, although when moving to a different state, you’ll need to learn the nuances of that state’s particular legal system – each state does something a little differently.

Aspiring paralegals have a few options. Upon high school graduation, you can enter a paralegal certification program. There are a few types from which to choose, including a paralegal certificate which take only a few months to complete; a two-year degree in paralegal studies; and a more post-graduate type program, requiring that you earn a bachelor’s degree before application. These programs will train you in areas such as research and writing skills, which are applicable to any practice area in which you specialize, as well as give you an overview of a variety of legal topics, such as civil and criminal procedure. When choosing elective courses, however, it’s a good idea to focus your studies in the area of law you wish to pursue in your paralegal career. Be somewhat flexible in your choices, however. Be careful not to specialize too much –a good variety of topics will help you stay flexible in the job market.

When determining your educational path, remember that many firms seeking paralegals are looking for someone with the strongest legal background possible. This means that a four-year program can be most useful. Also, the more experience you get as a paralegal on your resume, the more your career options will expand. So when looking for a job, keep an open mind – experience is key to building a successful career, even if it isn’t in your primary field of interest.

When looking at schools to attend, be mindful that not all paralegal programs are endorsed by the American Bar Association (ABA). Some firms will only consider hiring paralegals who graduated from ABA-accredited schools. So if you are pursuing a career in Rochester NY in paralegal services, check to see which companies in Western NY prefer ABA-accredited training for the paralegals they hire prior to applying to a paralegal studies program.

Education for paralegals doesn’t end with earning a degree or certificate and finding a job. The only constant in the legal community is change. Therefore, to stay current with the ever-changing legal environment, good paralegals subscribe to a variety of news sources and business magazines, as well as attend continuing education seminars. Taking ownership of your knowledge of current events and changes in the law is another key to developing a successful paralegal career.

Practice Areas for Paralegals

As noted above, paralegals can work in a huge variety of practice areas, supporting attorneys who practice in such areas as:

Bankruptcy
– Business/Corporate
– Collections
Family Law
– Foreclosures
– Immigration
– Intellectual Property
– Litigation
– Probate and Estate Planning
– Real Estate
– Securities Law
– Criminal Law
– Personal Injury

This is only a sampling of the areas of expertise you can consider for your career. And don’t limit yourself to only one. Each area has its unique challenges. Consider blending a couple areas of interest in your career – that will give you a wider variety of employment opportunities and open the door to potentially different and interesting client and trial experiences.

Be A Major Legal Contributor

A good paralegal at one’s side can be a huge asset to a legal firm or other company. The paralegal support services offered will allow lawyers to stay focused on their clients needs without worrying about some of the more procedural matters. The best paralegals can handle almost anything your firm needs, include finding background information on clients, drafting legal documents, proofreading, doing research, summarizing depositions, organizing records, summarizing documents and much more.

As a paralegal, you may not have spent seven or more years in school after high school, but you can still play an incredibly important role in the legal process as a whole and enjoy a challenging lifelong career, tailored to your specific interests and lifestyle. What could be better than that?

(ArticlesBase SC #845658)

Your Bankruptcy Attorney – Guiding You through the Process

•March 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

If you are in deep financial trouble and are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, then you should hire a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney that can guide you through the entire process.

Here is what your bankruptcy attorney will do once you have contacted them.

Your Attorney Will Ask For All the Relevant Papers

You will first need to go for mandatory credit counseling six months prior to filing for bankruptcy.

The proof of that counseling, along with other financial papers (such as a list of all your debts, expenses, income and assets), will have to be provided to your bankruptcy attorney before they can proceed.

They will study your documentation and then advise you on the best way out of your financial predicament.

Your Bankruptcy Attorney Will Then Decide On the Relevant Chapter

Based on your financial records, your bankruptcy attorney will come to a conclusion as to which chapter is more suitable for your situation.

If you have exhausted your sources of income, then you might be advised to file for bankruptcy under chapter 7. If you have a reduced source of income and would also like to save most of your assets, then your attorney might advise you to file under chapter 13.

If you own a business and you want to continue running it, then you could file for bankruptcy under chapter 11.

Your Attorney Can Help You with the ‘Means Test’

If you are filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy, then your bankruptcy attorney can help you calculate your gross and net income for the previous six months. That income will be compared to the average median income of a similar-sized family in your town.

If you do qualify to file under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then your attorney will coordinate with a trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court in disposing your assets in order to pay off your creditors.

If your income exceeds “means test” guidelines for qualifying filing a Chapter 7, then your attorney will now have to shift their attention to filing for bankruptcy under chapter 13, which requires a new repayment schedule.

This schedule will help you clear your old debts over a period of 3 to 5 years.

Your Bankruptcy Attorney Can Draw Up a New Schedule for the Court

If you need to file for bankruptcy under chapter 13, then your attorney can draw up a new repayment schedule and get it approved by the court after arranging a meeting with your creditors.

Once the repayment plan is approved, then you will need to start your payments according to that schedule.

Your Attorney Can Help You Avoid the Pitfalls

Filing for bankruptcy can be a complicated affair – and you will probably be too worried to be thinking straight.

An efficient bankruptcy attorney can calm you down and point out the pitfalls and advantages of filing for bankruptcy under different chapters after analyzing your case.

Hiring an attorney can save you a lot of time and effort. They will do the legwork involved to close your case at the earliest possible time.

An experienced, knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney is a vital asset to have on your side when you are facing financial difficulties and thinking of filing for bankruptcy.

(ArticlesBase SC #1487558)

Qualities to Look for in a Good Denver Lawyer

•March 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Taking on legal matters are really complicated, regardless if you are the defendant or the plaintiff. To this end, it is really important to hire the services of a competent Denver lawyer who will ensure that you will not waste away your hard-earned money and get you what you want. But how does one asses and select a good Denver lawyer, especially if there are lot of lawyers in the city offering their services readily?

Experience is an important aspect in selecting a competent Denver lawyer. It will help your case tremendously if your lawyer has a distinguished legal practice and is quite respected among his colleagues. Know that experience is one credential that is not easily faked. One of prominent sign of experience would be vast and excellent knowledge of the law, especially in the area of specialization. Hiring the services of an experienced Denver lawyer may not come cheap but there’s a good chance you’ll get value for your money.

You should also look for a Denver lawyer who always puts the client’s interest a priority in each of his cases. However, this priority should not also come into conflict with duty to the court. A competent Denver lawyer should be able to find a way to balance these two aspects of his career in order to achieve professional advancement.

Do not forget to evaluate a Denver lawyer’s perseverance and creativity in pursuing a case, especially when faced with complex legal battles. In order to do this, reliability and consistency must also be exhibited.

But just how exactly do you seek out and solicit the services of a good Denver lawyer? One excellent way is to obtain personal referrals. Most people normally had dealings with lawyers in some points of their lives and it would help if you would ask friends and acquaintances first before deciding on who to approach. It would also help to approach organizations and advocacy groups that are related to the cause or case you are pursuing. These groups may have excellent recommendations and viable opinions on which Denver lawyer may be trusted and dedicated enough to take on your case. Reading news on local court cases may also help you get an idea on lawyers in your locality and may aid you in your search.

There are also several agencies offering lawyer referral services that you might also want to take advantage of in your quest of finding a competent Denver lawyer. These agencies have in-depth knowledge on individual practices and may be able to recommend the most suitable professional for your cause. To this end, you must also make sure that the agency you are dealing with have a legitimate and comprehensive method of screening the lawyers they are recommending. These agencies would also be able to give details on past cases handled and the extent of experience of a particular Denver lawyer.

It would also help if the Denver lawyer you are considering to approach is also supported by a good legal team, as these are the people who will have to do the nitty-gritty aspects of the case. In some cases, a competent legal team would spell the difference between a successfully tried case and those that failed.

 (ArticlesBase SC #716850)

The Truth About Bankruptcy

•March 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

As more and more Americans fall victim to rising bills and a slowing economy, a good number of ordinary citizens have been forced to investigate bankruptcy as a final solution to mounting debt-loads. Nearly two million of us went bankrupt last year and the number continues to climb. For consumers who’ve never before fallen behind in their payments, too many simply lose hope and, after the first call from a collection agency, blindly reach out for bankruptcy protection without learning much about the program. In reality, modern bankruptcies aren’t nearly as easy as people have been led to believe, and the consequence for credit report and families’ financial stability can often be disastrous. Furthermore, several alternatives to bankruptcy have emerged in recent years that, for the average borrowers, could make a good deal more sense. Bankruptcy’s certainly more widely discussed and may seem more convenient, but the repercussions of bankruptcy can be truly severe and, for a wide swath of borrowers, the program may not even be available. In this article, we hope to explain the bankruptcy process and illuminate some of the lesser-known pit-falls. For the genuinely desperate, bankruptcy protection may indeed be their last option, but, for the majority of consumers, it’s something to be avoided at all costs even for the few that qualify.

Some form of governmentally-sanctioned bankruptcy protection has been in existence for hundreds of years. Of course, until recently, the drawbacks were rather more severe – debtor’s prisons, thumbs branded with ‘T’ for thief, ears nailed to pillories (and, in Greek and Roman times, slavery). The term itself comes from the Italian banca rotta or broken bench and neatly signifies the often humiliating stigma of helpless debt-loads. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the United States government first implemented legislation meant to help the borrower who, by means not of his control, had fallen behind on payments, and the first laws instituting bankruptcy as we now know it only came into being just over a hundred years ago.

Essentially, bankruptcy protection is intended to assist individuals and corporations in liquidating or re-structuring their debts under the oversight of court-mandated trustees. A number of different statutes and accompanying federal bankruptcy divisions have been erected over the years concerning various types of debtors. Chapter 11, the third most common bankruptcy, is intended for businesses to re-organize while maintaining control of their enterprise (and, perhaps, agreeing to repay funds owed through future earnings). Chapter 9, famously used by Orange County several years ago, extends protection to municipalities and governmental utilities. Chapter 12 is solely intended for family farms and fishermen while Chapter 15 is meant for foreign corporations doing business on American soil. In this article, we’ll just take a look at the bankruptcy options overwhelmingly used by individual consumers: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13

Chapter 7 protection’s what most people think of when they hear the term bankruptcy. Under certain circumstances, Chapter 7 protection will eliminate most unsecured (leaving aside those loans pegged upon collateral that could be repossessed or foreclosed upon; vehicles and homes, most commonly) debts. Child and spousal support, recent tax liens, fines or penalties assessed from criminal actions, or most student loans would not be dischargeable under current law. 2005 legislation made it considerably more difficult for average borrowers to qualify for Chapter 7 protection. Applicants are now subjected to the so-called ‘means test’ which compares all filers’ incomes and living expenses to an arbitrarily defined state average in order to determine their degree of need, and, should income be too high or expenses too low, the court would instead switch those seeking to declare toward Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy isn’t that different from the corporate re-organization plan, really, except it’s dramatically harder for families to follow strict and governmentally-created budgets. Essentially, a trustee will determine what each filer’s income should be (based upon one past stretch and ignoring changes of employment or seasonally-based work) and what expenses are needed (often forcing relocation and pulling children from private schools, for example). Using the same criteria as Chapter 7, up to fifty percent of that debt-load may be eliminated, but the remainder’s lumped together in a payment plan with monthly minimums often higher than the borrower was currently paying (or, as often the case, not paying) with severe repercussions should even a single month’s payment not arrive.

In both cases, filers can expect their unsecured debts to be lessened if not entirely liquidated, but there are more serious disadvantages that aren’t mentioned as often. First of all, absolutely nothing’s as damaging to the borrower’s credit report or FICO score . A bankruptcy will remain on a credit report for up to a decade and in court documents for twenty years. Any future financial transactions will be severely curtailed. Continuing education, home loans (even rentals), even many potential employment opportunities may be near impossible with a bankruptcy on one’s record. Security clearances or personal insurance will often be denied. And, if it needs mentioning, there’s an understandable social stigma surrounding bankruptcy. It’s considered the final option for a very good reason.

Beyond the ruinous effects upon credit and eventual life plans, though, there are the practical drawbacks immediately discernable. With Chapter 7 protection, the newly bankrupt have always faced the threat of property being seized by the government and auctioned for sale with proceeds going to repay creditors, but, in the past, such property was valued purely be re-sale amounts. Under the 2005 legislation, however, all property’s to be valued with regard to replacement costs. Obviously, this makes any total much higher and greatly increases the chance all possessions (including household goods, family heirlooms, toy and hobby equipment, even clothes) could wind up on the auction block. Would elimination of debts be worth the elimination of a life’s collected possessions?

With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, there’s the necessity of submitting the next five years’ existence to federal guidelines and the whims of a court-appointed trustee. Everything depends upon state averages and an arbitrarily-set list of day-to-day needs. Should your child require special schooling or your line of work require a certain type of vehicle (or, simply, should you live in an area of the state with considerably higher rents), none of this would matter. Remember: these new statues were implemented solely to make it less advantageous for the average consumer to declare bankruptcy. And few things could be less desirable than a life lived under IRS statistical dominion.

Leaving aside the popular myth of bankruptcy offering a fresh start (even though, as we’ve shown, most debts aren’t even dischargeable under the current legislation), black-marks against credit reports last up to a decade. There’s a common misconception that, in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, debtors can choose certain credit lines to maintain. Upon threat of imprisonment, though, every single account must be included within the bankruptcy. .If borrowers are somehow able to manage credit card companies or mortgage lenders to again trust them, the interest rates would be sky-high. The very procedure of filing for bankruptcy, even with the well-paid assistance of bankruptcy attorneys – whose importance, as laws grow more complex, cannot be underestimated – has become an incredibly laborious undertaking; almost a second job even before considering the mandated (and borrower funded) debt management classes each filer must complete before discharge.

As unemployment worsens, credit cards become more available to all sorts of borrowers, and (a rarely-discussed but important reason for the rapid increase of filings) the rate of divorce spirals, it’s easy to see why so many Americans still feel the need to declare bankruptcy, but other alternatives do exist. The debt settlement programs combine much of what’s enticing about bankruptcy protection with safeguards against garnished wages or loss of property – and relatively minor credit repercussions compared to the FICO score carnage Chapters 7 and 13 may inflict. Essentially, negotiation professionals talk to each creditor on behalf of the debtor and, in exchange for an easily navigable monthly installment plan, attempt to reduce the overall debt-load toward something more manageable. The creditors themselves, reasonably, worry that persecuted borrowers may attempt a Chapter 7 as a last-ditch solution, and, however unlikely total liquidation of debt this current climate, they still would prefer not to risk the chance. Furthermore, the legal costs too often outweigh the debts they actually collect – and, once accounts go to collection agencies, those rare funds tracked down amount to pennies on the dollar.

For all concerned, it’s a better idea to work out some sort of mutually-beneficial arrangement. Depending on each borrower’s specific financial portfolio or debt-load, the debt settlement professional lowers both payments and balance in amounts exceeding forty percent. Credit reports take a hit, of course, but the effect upon FICO scores is nowhere near as extreme as what happens after a bankruptcy. Borrowers that have successfully followed the debt settlement program may regain top credit scores in only a matter of years. Beyond which, there’s no threat of governmentally-sanctioned budgeting or seized possession – and existing bill collectors must contact the borrowers’ debt settlement officer when attempting to collect monies owed.

Obviously, as with any serious financial issue, one should always consult professionals in the industry before making a final decision. There are more and more debt settlement counselors every day, as the economy continues to worsen and ordinary borrowers begin to understand (especially in light of recent legislative restrictions) the different alternatives available, and it only takes a moment for the professional to analyze a debtor’s credit report and offer advice as to the best option. Certainly, there’s a wide collective of Americans with debts no honest man could pay, and bankruptcy protection’s still needed to help the truly unfortunate. For most of us, though, the negative connotations of bankruptcy, particularly now, far outweigh the chance of debt liquidation. It’s best to investigate all possible scenarios, but the days of guilt-free debt liquidation are over.

(ArticlesBase SC #486680)