9 Times When Hiring an Attorney Makes Sense

Sometimes hiring an attorney isn’t warranted. For example, if you get a speeding ticket, you don’t likely need a lawyer. But when there’s a situation involving a legal dispute or a deal that needs to be made — complicated divorce, unfair job loss or a charge for driving while intoxicated — hiring an attorney for your legal defense can make perfect sense.

If you are unsure if you need to hire an attorney or whether you want to hire a particular attorney, many will offer a free consultation. Being able to communicate with a legal expert without worrying about having to come up with money is a plus. During the consultation, you can find out what type of case the attorney thinks you have and what the outcome might be. Here are 10 times when hiring an attorney makes sense.

1. You’re Confused About the Law

In certain legal situations, it’s important to have an experienced attorney representing you or you could experience legal pitfalls. “Even seemingly simple charges— assault or drug possession— can involve complex questions of constitutional rights,” according to the Matthew Hand law office. The more complex the issue you are dealing with, the more important it is to consider hiring an attorney who specializes in that issue, such as criminal defense or tax law attorney.

2. Other Parties Involved Have Retained Legal Representation

If the other parties you are involved with have legal representation, not having your own attorney can put you at a definite disadvantage. It will mean that you will have to represent yourself against an experienced attorney, which can mean that you may end up with a less-than-favorable outcome.

3. The Evidence or Testimony Needs to be Challenged

When you don’t have the benefit of legal education and training, there are certain aspects of your case, including evidence and testimony that you may not know to be aware of. An attorney is well-versed in the ins-and-outs of legal cases and will pick up on things that the average person might not.

4. You Need Advice About Your Options

When a legal case is complex, you will not only need advice from a practiced attorney to help you know how to plead in some cases, but an experienced lawyer can also help make the right choices during the actual legal proceedings.

5. A Plea Bargain or Settlement May Be the Best Route

An attorney with enough experience under his belt has either worked on a case with similar circumstances to the one you’re involved in or can make an educated guess about how it might turn out if it goes to trial. The attorney can advise you about things such as whether you might want to take a plea bargain or even settle and help with the negotiations if applicable.

6. Legal Contracts are Involved

Contracts stuffed with legal jargon can confuse anyone who is not used to reading that type of language. If you don’t comprehend some of the language, you won’t be able to make sense of the contract. An attorney is used to reading and interpreting contracts and can spot details that are cause for a second look.

7. Your Finances or Freedom are at Risk

If you are involved in a legal case that could have outcomes that would compromise your finances or your freedom, hiring an attorney is a very smart move. Do you want to end up spending time in prison or losing a substantial amount of money because you decided not to hire experienced legal representation?

8. Documents Have to be Filled Out and Filed

If you aren’t used to filling out legal documents, it can be a challenge to fill them out. Plus, they will likely have to be filled out by a deadline. If the documents are not filled out correctly or they aren’t filed on time, then it could cause issues with the outcome of your case.

9. You Need Experts or Witnesses to Help Win Your Case

If your case happens to go to trial, you may need the benefit of industry experts testifying on your behalf. That would mean you would have to research to find a suitable expert. Attorneys are in the unique position of having connections to these type of experts and can contact them for their help. Attorneys are also experienced in identifying witnesses that can help strengthen your case and obtaining their testimony — whether through the witness’ cooperation or by petitioning the court to issue a subpoena.

Roth or Traditional IRAs: Which One Should You Choose?

First things first: kudos to you for looking into a long-term savings account. You’ve made the initial step toward growing your net worth and saving for retirement. The question is, which kind of IRA is best for you: Roth or Traditional? If you’re like most Americans, you hardly know the difference between the two.

The answer truly depends on your current circumstances. Both kinds of IRA accounts have their pros and cons, so you’ll need to evaluate your situation and determine which is the best fit. Here are a few ways to do that.

Think About Your Current Tax Bracket

The biggest difference between Traditional and Roth IRAs is the tax break. When you put money away into a Traditional IRA, your contributions are tax-deductible today. That means you’ll have more money in your pocket right now simply by saving for retirement. However, you will pay taxes on that money once you withdraw it upon retirement.

With Roth IRAs, the money is taxed upfront, which can be a bummer. The nice thing is that you won’t pay taxes when you withdraw the money after you’re retired. You’re basically biting the bullet while you’re young.

Although you might be tempted to go for the Traditional IRA’s tax deductions right now, consider this: are you going to be in a higher tax bracket now or when you’re 65? Chances are, your tax bracket is lower now, so you’re technically saving money in the grand scheme of things by paying your taxes ahead of time with a Roth IRA.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that a Roth IRA is the smarter choice. It truly depends on your current situation, including your tax bracket now and later.

Consider Your Income

How much money you earn yearly can influence your decision. As long as you’re younger than 70.5 years old, you can contribute to a Traditional IRA, no matter how much money you earn (with or without a partner). Roth IRAs, on the other hand, cap the income-eligibility restrictions at $137,000 per person. If you make more than that individually, you’ll need to look into other options.

Look at the Contribution Withdrawal Penalties

Sometimes, life forces you to reach into your hard-earned savings earlier than you planned. If you need to take money out of your Roth IRA (up to $10,000), you won’t be charged any additional penalties or taxes, even if you’re under the age of 59. With a Traditional IRA, you’ll be charged a 10 percent penalty fee for the first $10,000 you withdraw before 59. You can technically work around this penalty with certain situations, such as disability, buying a home, or medical expenses. Still, you’ll pay taxes upon distribution.

Do You Plan to Keep Saving After You Retire?

Let’s say you want to pass money onto your future heirs, or perhaps you have another source of income you’ll use to fund your retirement. In that case, a Roth IRA might be the smart way to go. You can contribute money to the account up until you die. With a Traditional IRA, you can only contribute money until you’re 70.5.

In Conclusion

Putting money into any kind of IRA is a smart move for your future. Deciding between Traditional and Roth is more circumstantial. Would you rather pay your taxes now or later? Are you planning on withdrawing the money before you’re 59? Will you move into a new tax bracket?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer to any of these questions. They’re all just factors to consider before opening a new account.

Why Getting a Small Tax Refund Isn’t a Bad Thing

We’re approaching the end of tax season here in America, which means you should either have received your tax refund already or you’re filing for it soon. Most of us are secretly crossing our fingers that we’ll stumble upon an extra grand while filing our taxes, but in reality, receiving a hefty tax fund might be a sign that something’s wrong with your finances.

Let’s talk about why getting a small refund is actually a good thing.

Big Refunds Mean That The Government Was Using Your Money

Think of it this way: if a bank accidentally gave you $6,000 when they loaned you $5,000, you’d get an extra grand to use without paying interest. That’s hugely beneficial. When you overpay your taxes and leave your money with the government, the same thing happens. You’re loaning out money without making any kind of profit.

If you had put less towards your taxes and accepted a smaller refund, you could have used that money to invest in real estate or stocks. Additionally, you could have put more money each month toward your loan payments, thereby increasing your net worth. Maybe you could have built up a bigger nest egg or paid those doctor’s bills when you needed to.

Refunds aren’t giveaways – the money was already yours. The government was just holding your extra payments until tax season rolled around. Why shouldn’t you just keep that money from the beginning?

You Should Never Rely on Your Refund

Many Americans go into “holiday debt” during the months of November and December. As a result, they look forward to their annual tax return as an emergency fund of sorts. The issue with this plan? Tax refunds can vary dramatically depending on numerous factors, including the economy, government, and personal life changes.

It’s a better idea to keep that tax money from the beginning and use it to build an emergency fund in a high-yield savings account. That way, you’ll have the money right when you need it without worrying about your refund’s arrival date.

How to Keep Your Tax Refund Small

Now that you know to avoid large tax refunds, let’s talk about how you can handle your money earlier on in the year to reap the biggest benefits. When you get your next paycheck, figure out how much your employers are taking out for taxes. They might be taking out an extra $100, which then contributes to your hefty refund.

Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve. Visit your HR office to discuss changing your paperwork to take out the appropriate amount for taxes. Keep in mind that you definitely don’t want to pay too little towards your taxes. More than 21 percent of taxpayers didn’t have enough taken out of their paychecks this year. Leave an extra chunk of change in your tax payments to avoid owing money at the end of the year.

If you’re worried that you’re paying too much or too little when it comes to taxes, speak with a professional tax advisor. Finding out exactly how much you owe in taxes can improve your budgeting, help you get out of debt, and generally improve your financial picture.

To Sum It All Up

I know, getting a hefty refund after going through the arduous process of filing your taxes seems like a giant reward. If it happens, great! But next time, think about what you could have been doing with that money if you’d had it seven months ago. Would you have tackled your loans more aggressively? Would you have put that down payment on a house?

Big refunds aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, so don’t let the media or friends fool you.

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