Sunday, January 27, 2013

Bankruptcy Jail: Can You Go to Jail for Debt?

Bankruptcy Jail: Can You Go to Jail for Debt?

By itself, failure to pay your bills is not a crime in the United States. Though the term is freely bandied about today, Bankruptcy Jail, or Debtor’s Prison, has not existed since the mid-1800s. While there are some circumstances that could land you in the pokey, the average debtor who can’t pay the credit cards is highly unlikely to wind up there.

What are the circumstances that might cause a debtor to be imprisoned? Well, that varies from state to state but can include failure to pay child support (if one can afford to) and failure to pay other court-imposed costs. Other things that could cause you to go to jail for debt are ignoring court orders and unpaid debt incurred through fraudulent or other criminal actions. In California, one may be imprisoned to pay down court-imposed costs under certain programs.

An unethical, and illegal, tactic that collection agencies often employ is to threaten debtors with imminent arrest and jail. Where fraud or other criminal activity is absent, this is not going to happen. A policeman is not going to show up on your doorstep, but if a creditor decides to sue you, someone with a summons in hand will.

Even though you are unlikely to go to jail for not paying your bills, being buried in debt is its own form of prison, and ignoring your situation won’t do anything to make it better. In fact, burying your head in the financial sand can actually make it worse.

The best thing you can do when overwhelmed by debt, whether you file bankruptcy or not, is to speak with a bankruptcy lawyer. Many give free consultations where you will be able to get a better handle on your situation. If you’re not sure how to shop for a lawyer, check out what I learned about choosing a bankruptcyattorney.

So, does bankruptcy jail exist? No. Can you go to jail for debt? Highly unlikely, but it’s remotely possible. Talk to an attorney to know for sure.

Good luck with your fresh start,


Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to Pay for a Lawyer

How to Pay for a Lawyer

Whether you need to file bankruptcy or you have another pressing legal matter which requires you to hire an attorney, it can be hard to come up with needed funds. If you're filing bankruptcy, you likely don't have any money, and the stress you are under no doubt makes it tough to think of ways that you can pay for your lawyer. If you need the services of a bankruptcy attorney or any other type of lawyer, and you are hard pressed for cash, the following tips may help.

1. Reduce your everyday expenses. Use coupons when buying groceries, stop eating out, and start brewing coffee at home. Look for cheaper car insurance, and carpool to work. No corner is too small to cut when it comes to saving money, and you can find all sorts of ways to do it once you put your mind to it. It helps to think of budget tightening as temporary. Remember that you can start treating yourself to little luxuries again after you get back on your feet.

2. Use gift money. Sure, you'd like to put the money that Aunt Ida gave you towards something fun like a vacation to Disneyworld or a diamond collar for Fido, but it is best earmarked for helping to pay your lawyer. There will be other trips to take and other opportunities to pamper your pooch. Now is the time to take care of you.

3. Do your taxes as soon as possible, and use the refund to retain your attorney. Put aside what you thought you were going to do with the money, and get legal help instead. You'll be better off in the long run.

4. Get a second job. Ouch, I know, but this job doesn't have to be permanent. It only needs to last as long as it will take to save up the money for a bankruptcy attorney. Just think, after your bankruptcy is discharged, you will likely be in better financial shape, making a second job unnecessary.

5. Rent out a room in your home. I don't blame you if you don't want a roommate, but this can be temporary too, but the goal is to get money coming in as soon as you can. The sacrifices that you make now will pay off big time in the future.

Those are just a few tips on how to pay for a lawyer that you may find of use. Remember that it's never a good idea to borrow money to pay for an attorney, and that goes double if you're looking for a bankruptcy attorney. Also, many attorneys will give you a free consultation, so make sure you take advantage of this to get a better grasp of your situation. If you need more information about choosing a bankruptcy attorney, see my bankruptcy lawyer tips.

Drop me a comment if you've got something to say. I wish you the freshest of starts.