Tackling a legal or financial problem can wear on one’s psyche. Proven Resource managing attorney explains how to address the issues that commonly weigh people down.
“Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle and a victory”.
Nothing is worse than learning that a potential client has ignored a legal or financial problem that could have been easily resolved had they just paid attention to lender correspondence, or had entrusted their issue to the right professional. True, sometimes this is easier said than done. When it comes to what the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke calls “the worst financial crisis in modern history”, there is little that struggling business owners or consumers could have done to prepare them for their financial or legal challenges. People experiencing overwhelming financial or legal matters are quite often stuck battling some degree of depression or anxiety.
Here are five professional recommendations that will help loosen the vise of “economic” and “legal” depression, and increase the prospects for a positive resolution to one’s legal or financial problem:
- Stop ignoring your mail. Creditors are required by law to send written notices informing delinquent borrowers of important legal rights and critical time limits to exercise these rights. Missing a deadline could cause one to forfeit these various rights and defenses. Recognize that it is much more difficult to reverse a judgment or reopen a legal proceeding than it is to initially respond to a complaint. Take, for instance, a mortgage default; certain federal and state timelines allow a borrower to have their mortgage modification request re-evaluated even after it was denied at the underwriting level. Miss that cut-off date and it is near impossible to reapproach the lender.
- Answer your phone. It sounds counterintuitive, but instead of letting numerous creditor calls go unanswered only to increase one’s anxiety, just answer the collection call once and tell the caller to stop calling pursuant to federal law (Fair Debt Collection Practices Act). Should a debt collector call after that first warning, they expose themselves to a lawsuit. Instead of focusing on the fear and anxiety, direct the negative energy into developing a plan to seek professional assistance.
- Develop a plan. Nothing makes lenders and collectors feel better about a delinquent file than when the borrower offers up a realistic plan on how they will repay a loan. Filing bankruptcy should be the last consideration. It benefits neither party. Take some time to sketch out a repayment plan. In matters more serious than some late medical bill or credit card payments—a mortgage or commercial loan—it is better to make a timely and reasonable proposal to the lender before they unilaterally proceed to invoke their legal remedies and impose even less favorable terms.
- Get Organized. Take correspondence and documents and sort them by creditor. Stack them in chronological order and separate them into manila folders. This will make meetings with an adviser more efficient. Most importantly, going forward, keep a written log of who said what and when. Never discount a written log because it keeps creditors and collectors accountable for their words and actions.
- Find the right expert. The Martindale Directory is a legal directory that lists over 100 areas of law and another 81 sub-specialties. Understand that not all lawyers are the same. A divorce attorney is not a real estate attorney and a real estate attorney may not be a commercial real estate attorney. The right professional will help you develop a plan of action suitable for one’s situation. Now is not the time to become one’s own “jailhouse lawyer”. It takes years of experience to refine legal skill and knowledge. Time is not a luxury when it comes to addressing imminent financial or legal hardship.
Conclusion: Recognize that life is not static. Gandhi once said, “Every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph: a beginning, a struggle and a victory”. Move forward by taking just one of the five steps listed above. Be assured that things will only improve once action is taken.
About the Author: Since 1990, David Soble has been a real estate and finance attorney in Ohio and Michigan. He advises national banks, lenders, loan servicers, consumers and business owners on residential and commercial real estate, finance and compliance issues. He has been involved in thousands of real estate transactions, being responsible for billions in real estate loan portfolios throughout his career. He has 23 years of real estate and lending law experience and the battle scars to support his tempered cynicism.