Originally published in the Bankruptcy Law Network here
It’s an old saying among bankruptcy attorneys that their clients should have seen them at least a year ago.
If they did, they wouldn’t have done all of the things that cost them lots and lots and lots of money:
- Taking money out of retirement programs to pay unsecured debt;
- Borrowing money from banks, taking out cash advances from credit cards, dealing with payday lenders;
- Selling real estate or other assets;
- Borrowing money from friends and family;
- Drawing down their bank accounts to pay dischargeable debt;
- Getting sued, or garnished or attached;
- Dealing with a year of unpleasant phone calls, nasty letters and stress.
So, given all of these problems, why don’t people speak with a bankruptcy attorney sooner? The answer lies in the legitimate and very real desire to avoid bankruptcy. By the time many of my clients first call me, they have already taken money out of their retirement, sold what they could, borrowed money from whomever would lend it to them, run through their savings, gotten sued, and been driven frantic by bill collector calls and letters. Most people going through financial difficulties believe that better times are just around the corner, and “If I can just get through things until…” it will be all better.
Unfortunately, it often does not get better.
Nevertheless, people who have done these things know, deep down, they they really did everything possible to avoid bankruptcy. Did it cost them a lot of money? Yes. Did knowing that they did everything they could to not have to call me give them some degree of comfort? Probably. But I think that most of my clients would rather have the money back!