Recent studies reveal why people don’t use a lawyer even when faced with a situation where a lawyer might be helpful. The biggest reason people don’t have an attorney is:
- NOT because they believe it would make any difference;
- NOT because it’s too expensive or they can afford it;
- NOT because they don’t know how or where to find one; and
- NOT because they’re determined to handle on their own.
The top reason why people don’t hire an attorney when they confront a legal problem is because they don’t recognize the need for legal advice.
This is actually a problem both for consumers – who can benefit from good legal advice even when they don’t know they can benefit from representation and surprisingly, for lawyers, too. It seems the legal profession is not doing a good job of letting people know why and when a lawyer is valuable, necessary or even just help helpful.
Some people recognize the need for a lawyer; but instead try to handle it themselves. They don’t see that legal advice and assistance may get them better and quicker results.
Others recognize that they are in a legal situation, but seek help from a source other than an attorney, such as from an elected official, government office, medical professional or counselor, or clergy.
Most people understand that a lawyer can help if there is litigation or a trial or transaction. Examples include: being charged with a crime or traffic violation that could jeopardize your license; any challenge involving significant money or property issues; employment or professional licenses or privileges; debt, borrowing or mortgages; buying or selling business assets; divorce, custody or support; zoning issues etc.
But those situations are mostly not the focus of my practice. When do people need my help, but may not even know it?
When all is going well, the value of or need for legal representation is not as apparent. And when things are not going well, it may be too difficult – or occasionally too late – to involve an attorney.
For example, unless you are ill or becoming disabled, it may not be obvious that Power of Attorney is crucial. But without it, whoever is going to step up to help you will instead have to go to court before a Judge to be officially appointed as your legal Guardian – and that takes longer than having Power Of Attorney, costs much more, and is a lot less flexible and convenient with the Judge supervising their every move.
At Marks Elder Law, we do estate planning (preparing Wills, Powers of Attorney, Trusts, etc.), estate administration after someone has died, and long-term care/asset protection planning for someone headed toward expensive long-term care. We also work on estate and Power Of Attorney related litigation cases and real estate matters
Here’s my purpose in writing to you today. You may need or benefit from our help at these times, without realizing it:
- First, if you may ever become ill or die. I’m being a little facetious here, because this of course applies to everyone, but mostly serious. You may care who will make health decisions for you– or even who will be allowed to visit you, or not. You need a health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will.
- If you may become unable to take care of your own affairs. You can say who will help you with your income, assets, debts and expenses – and who should NOT be in charge of your affairs. You need a Financial Power of Attorney.
- If you want your assets or property go the individuals or recipients that you want them to go to when you die. You need a Last Will and Testament or a Trust.
- If you’re headed toward assisted living or nursing care, we can often help you save more of your money. You need an elder law strategic planning consultation.
- If you are inheriting from someone, our assistance may help you receive your bequest securely, while possibly saving tax or estate administration costs.