When do I need a lawyer?


It’s not that hard to tell when you should call your doctor, or a plumber, or 911.  But how does the average person know when to call a lawyer for help?  After all, almost everything we do, from buying a house, to driving a car, to getting married, involves laws.  Most of these things we are well able to handle without a lawyer at our side.  And some issues and disputes may well benefit from the help of other professionals—therapists, or accountants, or your priest, minister or rabbi. So how do you know when you need legal help?   Here’s a few general tips.


When do other people call lawyers? 


Estate planning is one of the most common reason people who are not in a crisis hire a lawyer.  Estate planning involves writing a will, often creating a living trust, and should always mean drafting powers of attorney for finances and health care.  But can’t you do that yourself, using pre-printed forms?  Maybe. But if you own a house, have children, are divorced, or have significant assets, it is wise to have legal help.  Other matters include drawing up simple or complex contracts and agreements, as when you’re buying or selling small business, loaning money to family or friends, or leasing out your rental property; divorce/support/custody matters; partnership dissolutions; bankruptcy; when you’re involved in an accident; in probate disputes; in real estate transactions (but in California, unlike some other states, attorneys are not routinely involved in a simple residential purchase/sale).  Obviously, criminal matters require legal help.


How soon should I call a lawyer?


Our first impulse when faced with a significant legal problem or crisis may be to wait and see; we all think we can and should be able to resolve our problems ourselves.  And none of us want to spend money unnecessarily.  But be honest: can you really handle this, or are you just hoping it all will go away?  And do you even want to handle it on your own?  Once you’ve admitted you need legal help, get in touch with a lawyer as soon as possible so that the problem can be managed before it gets out of hand.


If you think you may need a lawyer contact our office for help at 916-388-5100.

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