The handling of personal or business financial affairs should be conducted with the utmost care. Individuals commonly retain attorneys to help them with delicate financial matters that can’t otherwise handle themselves, or that fall beyond the scope of a financial planner, a bookkeeper or an accountant. Why should a person need to retain an attorney for their financial needs? A few reasons stand out:
The idea of the United States becoming a litigious society is often discussed, but the fundamental underlying reasons why that is happening tend to be ignored. Like in many other anglophone countries, the American legal system follows the principle of common law, whereby jurisprudence and case law form important precedents on which new cases can be decided. Our legal system, which has been in operation for centuries, has amassed a vast compendium of case law that can accommodate just about opinion. This fuels litigants’ hopes in terms of getting their desired outcome in court, and in turn causes people to prompt legislators to enact new laws or amend existing ones.
The body of laws and the staggering amount of precedence alone do not make a society litigious. It’s the sheer amount of plaintiffs with financial motivations that can be considered responsible for the packed courthouses. In the absence of financial motive, many plaintiffs do not stand to gain much from the complex processes involved in civil litigation. Since the financial motivation is unlikely to go away anytime soon, lawyers are becoming specialized in a variety of practices that deal with the efficient protection and handling of assets and debt.
Consumer Credit and Debt Management
The credit card industry in the United States produces billions of dollars in profits each year thanks to aggressive marketing, complex fee structures and questionable practices. In essence, credit cards are ideal financial tools for many consumers, but the issuing companies often place unreasonable burdens on their customers. Such burdens can end up badly for the cardholders, to the point that legal representation is required. Credit card companies are notorious for their propensity to employ legal teams to push their agendas, and thus an attorney is the best line of defense against overzealous tactics. Creditors are known to go to any lengths to collect, seize or repossess in regard to delinquency. Without attorneys at their side, consumers can easily lose control of their finances in such cases.
The two main methods of profit for insurance companies are: collecting premiums and avoiding having to make payments on significant claims. When catastrophic losses occur, such as massive auto accidents or damages caused by natural disasters, insurance companies may reach into their legal toolkit to avoid making payments that could affect their bottom line. Simply filling out claim forms may not compel an insurer to make payment on a claim, but legal briefs properly filed by an attorney may prove effective.
Securities and Investments
Fraudulent practices in the world of investments and securities are unfortunately rampant these days. Financial fraud was once thought to be the exclusive realm of penny stock pushers and fly-by-night operations, but as the Bernard Madoff and Allen Stanford cases have shown, even the most prestigious names of the financial world may engage in fraud. Attorneys who specialize in financial matters routinely assist their clients in making the right decisions by thoroughly investigating investment agreements and performing due diligence on the entities their clients consider doing business with. In cases where deep losses are incurred in, lawyers can step in to determine if clients can recover part of their investments or if an exit strategy can be applied.
There are many other matters related to finance, such as representation before matters related to the Internal Revenue Service, estate planning and incorporation, which require the expertise of an attorney. While lawyers do not provide the same service or advice that accountants and financial planners do, they always work hard to protect the financial interests of their clients.
Author Jessica Stevens is a financial consultant and content contributor for wisebread.com, a site offering detailed information and reviews about balance transfer credit cards and great money tips for living large on a small budget.