Lately, I’ve been meeting with clients who are facing an imminent collection action (or two). For example, I might get a call on a Tuesday, and a foreclosure auction is on Wednesday, or a client calls to cancel their appointment because they cannot get to the office because their car was repossessed. In others, there is a court date, or an ordered garnishment. In virtually every instance, folks have been trying to deal with the debt issues themselves.
Sometimes, they are dealing directly with the creditor, trying to work out a deal only to have it fall through at the last minute. Others, they are heading from bank to bank, or calling credit card company after credit card company looking for an extra extension of credit to get them through. And still others are hoping that an uncle/brother/parent/grandparent can lend them money. Regardless of what they tried to do, their efforts did not pay off.
Then, they are sitting across from me. While I admit I am not the first person people call when they are struggling with debt (notwithstanding my abilities and off-beat sense of humor), being the last person is not necessarily a good thing especially when if I am forced to say is “you’ve waited far too long and there is nothing I can do.”
Let’s not forget that the Bankruptcy Code now requires credit counseling: the ticket in. And let’s not also forget that while bankruptcy protection is still available, the code now requires that we attorneys get a lot more information and documents than we once had to. If your foreclosure auction is tomorrow, the last thing you want to hear from me is “I can help you – but I need at least six months of pay stubs.” Perhaps the second to the last thing you want to hear is: “I also need your tax returns.” Of course, that might really be a problem…unless you have not filed your tax returns yet….or, have not filed them for quite some time.
Here’s my point: the majority of us do not go to bed at night only to wake up and be more broke than we were the day before. It’s something that grows for a period of time. Sometimes weeks. Sometimes months. Sometimes years. While folks might try borrowing from relatives, getting loans, credit counseling or negotiating directly with creditors, folks need to have a back up plan just in case one – or all of those of those attempts are unsuccessful. Plan accordingly.
Please, plan accordingly.
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