Should I Hire a Debt Settlement Lawyer?

By: Roland Jefferson

A debt settlement lawyer is an attorney who can help eliminate or reduce your debt. There are times when a debt settlement lawyer will encourage you to file for bankruptcy, but most of the time he or she will work with your creditors to accept a percentage of what you owe as final payment.

One advantage to hiring a debt settlement lawyer is that the attorney can probably work out a better deal with a creditor than you could work out for yourself. Statistics suggest that when a debtor approaches a creditor to work out a settlement, the debtor still ends up paying about 75 per cent of every dollar owed. An experienced debt settlement lawyer can usually get this number down to 60 per cent.

But debt settlement lawyers are not the answer to every debt problem. They work best under the following conditions.

The Debt is Significant

A good debt settlement lawyer does not come cheap, often charging fees from $500 to $1000. Now assume you have $1000 in debt. Your debt settlement lawyer talks the creditor into accepting $600 to settle the debt, and charges you another $600 for his or her work. You pay a total of $1200, more than you would have paid had you simply paid off the debt, and much more than you would have paid if you had negotiated with the creditor on your own.

By all means, hire a debt settlement lawyer if you owe several thousand dollars, but if you owe a smaller amount, try to work with the creditor on your own.

The Debt is Unsecured

There are two kinds of debt, secured and unsecured. A secured debt is assured by some type of property. Your car loan, for instance, is a secured debt, because if you don't pay on the loan, your car can be repossessed. A home loan is also a secured debt.

Unsecured debts include medical bills, credit card debts, back child support, back tax payments, student loans, etc. Creditors can still pursue these debts aggressively--say by garnishing your wages - but it takes so much time and energy for them to collect on these debts that they're often willing to just let them go. A debt settlement lawyer will have much more luck intervening on your behalf if the loan is not secured. Very few creditors are willing to haggle about a secured loan - they just come and take the property, and that's that.

You Don't Place the Debt Settlement Lawyer under a Time Crunch

Debt settlement takes time and negotiation. If you have a date by which a settlement must be reached (e.g., if you're planning to apply for credit to buy a house at the end of August and need the outstanding debt settled by then), you've weakened your debt settlement lawyer's bargaining position significantly.

Hiring a debt settlement lawyer is a big decision, and it can cost a lot of money. If you hire the right lawyer at the right time, however, you can also relieve yourself of the stress of unpaid debt.

Debt, Loans & Business Cashflow
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