Concerned About a Lawsuit Ruining Your Credit?

September 30th, 2011

Lawsuit Funding can help you pay bills so your injury doesn’t kill your credit score.        Avoid bad credit during lawsuit

Are you concerned about the effect a reduction in income could have on your credit score if you’re unable to pay bills on time while waiting for your lawsuit to settle? Are you already late on payments to creditors and looking for a way to avoid defaulting, or possible repossession? If so, you may be a good candidate for litigation funding to cover your bills while you wait for the completion of your case.

 

A poor credit score can take a major toll on your financial well-being for years to come, making it more difficult to obtain credit for a vehicle, home purchase, or household loan; and making every dollar you borrow more expensive due to a potentially increased interest rate on your debt. When faced with this situation during the process of a lawsuit, you have several options available to you. Here are several steps you can take immediately to get back on track, and keep your credit score in check:

 

  1. Contact creditors to discuss options
    1. Some lenders may allow you to put payments on hold for a short period of time, or even cancel your accounts to secure a lower interest rate.
    2.  If you haven’t contacted creditors yet, this is a good first step to getting back on track.
  2. Pay at least the minimum amount due on all debts
    1. This is probably not the time to be concerned with paying larger amounts to reduce your overall debt. If you’re having financial trouble, see if you can adjust some household expenses to at least pay the minimums due on all accounts.
  3. Consolidate debts where possible to reduce monthly repayment expenses
    1. You may be able to transfer credit card debt to a lower interest card, or consolidate student loan debt to get a lower payment and fewer payments due.
  4. Look into presettlement finance options to get cash now
    1. If you’re unable to make ends meet, and unable to pay the minimum amounts due to creditors while your lawsuit continues, then you should review your options for lawsuit financing. This can provide much-needed support to help keep your bills, and credit score, in check while you navigate through your case. Contact a representative at PSFinance today to discuss your options.

 

For Attorneys: Where to Meet Your Next Client

April 26th, 2011

For our Attorney colleagues and friends, we are always looking to promote new opportunities to help you build your business or improve your service offering. If you are experiencing a lull in new client lead generation, it may be time to make some changes to your marketing or networking efforts.

Networking (it’s not the ‘same-old, same-old’)


In this world of mobile communications, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, networking organizations, and personal referrals, are you unsure of where your time would best be spent to meet new clients?  The answer, unfortunately, is ‘nearly everywhere’. While it’s hard to predict where or when your next client will appear, the likelihood is that they are utilizing a number of communications tools every day where you could have the opportunity to connect with them.
Here are a few of the most obvious, and tips on how to use them effectively:

  • Networking Organizations
    • If you’re not already involved in your local Chamber of Commerce, business networking group(s), and at least one non-profit organization in your community, you may be missing out on valuable opportunities to connect (directly or indirectly) with clients in need of your services. Hiring an Attorney is a very well-thought-out process, and most people are likely to turn first to those they know for a referral vs. pull a name from a directory or website. By multiplying the personal connections you maintain, you will multiply your opportunities for these referrals to be sent your way.
    • Personal networking will use up the largest amount of your time, but the direct costs are negligible, and these qualified leads will often yield the best results.
  • Maintaining Contact
    • Once you’ve made hundreds of personal connections, you may find that it’s nearly impossible for that many people to remember you when asked for a referral to an Attorney. For that reason, it is crucial to keep your name in front of these new contacts at regular intervals. We recommend creating an email newsletter campaign and asking them to be included on your list. From there, it’s easy to put together a single monthly newsletter with resources and information, and to keep your name at the top of their minds.
    • Another great tool is an automatic greeting card service, where you can upload your contacts to a list and have printed cards delivered by mail for events such as birthdays, holidays, or quarterly check-ins.
  • Social Media
    • The role of Social Media in this case should be to serve as a secondary way of maintaining contact (in addition to the above), and staying in front of your connections. By maintaining professional profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, and (to a lesser extent) Facebook’s Business Page sites, you will multiply the opportunities to be positioned well for potential referrals and direct leads.
    • The next time someone in your expanded network sees a request from one of their friends for “a referral to a great lawyer”, they will be able to easily connect you without leaving that site.
  • Reviews
    • Regardless of how a prospect first heard about you, it is very likely they will do a little digging online before contacting you to discuss their case. If they find very little information, or a negative review of your practice, they may likely not contact you at all. So it is imperative to “Google” yourself and review the information that appears. Clean up and complete profiles wherever possible (Yelp.com and Google Places listings are a great start), and be sure your information is updated on the local Law directory sites. If any negative reviews appear, you’ll want to focus on requesting new reviews from your other clients and colleagues, to push these down in the rankings.

How To Dress For Court

April 26th, 2011

Have you set a court date for your pending lawsuit, and now are completely confused over what to wear? Well you’ve come to the right place.

Dressing for court can be tricky. You want to make a good impression, but if the issue at hand is one of financial difficulty, you also don’t want to have the appearance of having spent a small fortune on your outfit.

Here are a few hints for putting your best foot forward at your court date:

Think “Job Interview”

  1. In a few words, dress in a Professional and Respectful manner, and don’t stand out on the basis of your clothes.
  2. For men, this typically is the look of a pair of black or gray dress pants (not jeans!), and a button-down shirt in a solid color (jacket & tie optional). You don’t want to look like you’re trying too hard (full formal suit) or that you just rolled out of bed and couldn’t be bothered. For ideas, see styles at Brooks Brothers or Banana Republic.
  3. For women, this could include a knee-length skirt or tailored pants (no jeans!) in black, gray or navy blue, and a button-down shirt, blouse, or knit top (jacket optional). For ideas, see styles at Ann Taylor or Banana Republic.

Lean to the Right (Conservative)

  1. No flashy colors here, and nothing too tight, low-cut, or revealing for you ladies.
  2. Your goal in choosing an outfit for court is to blend in with a business/conservative crowd. Unlike what we’ve seen recently from Lindsay Lohan this is definitely not the time to stand out for your choice of clothing.

Beware Those Accessories

  1. Along the same lines as above, you don’t want your accessories to detract from the proceedings of your case. Distracting jewelry such as large belt buckles, jingling bracelets, and huge dangling earrings will only make you look like you care more about your flashy jewelry than the matter at hand. Keep jewelry and makeup minimal – conservative and professional.
  2. And even if your expensive bag, watch, jewelry or shoes were a gift from your grandmother, now is not the time to bring them out. When you’re involved in proceedings due to financial difficulty, you don’t want to look like you’re wearing a thousand dollars worth of accessories, even if you didn’t purchase them yourself.

The key to dressing for court is to solidify the understanding that you are a reliable, professional, respectful, and honest person, and that your arguments should be taken seriously. By making poor choices in your wardrobe, you run the risk of having the court perceive you as someone who doesn’t have those qualities.

3 Common Myths About Lawsuit Funding

March 15th, 2011

Whether you have experienced a situation in the past where a client has considered litigation funding for their ongoing lawsuit, or are currently researching options for a client in need, the process can be somewhat confusing.

To help you navigate this process, we have identified and responded to several common myths about lawsuit financing in this post. If your questions are more complex, or you would like to speak with a representative to gather additional information, please contact us today.

Myth 1: Legal Finance is Only Available in Large, Lump-Sum Payments

Fact: While many lawsuit finance companies only offer lump-sum payments, they may end up giving more money than a client actually needs to cover emergency expenses and this can end up costing your client higher fees at the end of the case. Others including Pre-Settlement Finance offer multiple options to meet your clients’ needs.

Clients can choose from up-front lump-sum payments or smaller monthly installments which are dispersed over time. Depending on the situation, one or the other may be more cost-effective and better suited meet the clients’ needs.

Myth 2: The Money Must Be Repaid, Even if the Client Loses

Fact: While we can’t speak for others in our industry, lawsuit loans only have to be repaid if the client is successful in their settlement. This is a non-course funding contingent on the outcome of the case. It is that simple.

Myth 3: Lawsuit Funding is the Same as a Bank Loan

Fact: Although these financing plans are sometimes referred to by clients as “lawsuit cash advances” or “lawsuit loans”, these types of financing plans are not loans or cash advances. There is no absolute obligation for your client to pay us back, accept if their lawsuit resolves successfully. As noted above, if the client does not win their case, no money will have to be repaid to our company.

Helping Your Clients Find the Best Financing Option

March 15th, 2011

Helping client with lawsuit fundingAs an attorney, you may have had clients reach out to you looking for help with paying bills while their case moves through the settlement process. If you have found yourself in this situation, having a clear understanding of the pre-settlement process will help your clients choose a funding that is right for them.

Here is a description of the most common sources of funding:

Lump Sum Pre-Settlement Financing

This is the most common form of funding for cases in the pre-settlement phase.
Initially, the case file is reviewed and a funding range is determined.  Then an assessment of the clients needs is considered  and a flat lump-sum payment is made to the client.
This money can be used for any needs the client experiences, including the payment of medical bills, household expenses, food, and debt repayment.
As clients may have postponed paying bills during their case because of their inability to work, this is often the best source of money to prevent eviction, foreclosure.
This type of funding is only is paid back if your clients’ case is successful as it is a non-recourse funding contingent on the outcome of the case.  Since payment is due at the resolution of the case, there are no additional monthly bills for the client to worry about.

Pre-Settlement Installment Funding

As with Lump Sum advances, this option is also based on an initial assessment of the case and the client’s needs.  The funding can be used to alleviate financial pressures the client may be experiencing.
Installment financing is often a lower-cost alternative to lump sum payments, as the funds are disbursed in smaller increments over a specified period of time.
This is a good alternative for clients who are experiencing trouble covering monthly household expenses, such as mortgage or rent payments, groceries, car payments, fuel, and similar items; but who are not overwhelmed by a large debt or long overdue bills.

Traditional Borrowing Sources

Traditional sources, such as borrowing from family and friends, banks, credit cards, and home equity loans are often the first options many people look to when in need of cash during a pending lawsuit.
While in some situations these may be the most beneficial sources, the drawback to all of these is that the cash becomes tied to another personal debt, and must be paid back regardless of whether the client wins or loses their case.  Also, borrowers will often need assets to be used as collateral to obtain a traditional loan.
If you have questions regarding a specific case or situation, please contact us for additional information or to begin an application for your client.

Coupons: The Great Money-Saving Strategy

March 10th, 2011

If you’re trying to find ways to reduce household expenses while waiting for your lawsuit settlement to come to a conclusion, you may be looking for opportunities to cut back on your grocery bills.

To cut costs on those items you just can’t live without, like groceries, toiletries, and other necessities, we’ve put together a list of some of the best informational sources to help you reduce, reuse, and save some green!

Coupons

If you’re ready to see your grocery bill cut down to almost nothing, and your stockpile of groceries and toiletries multiply at the same time, extreme couponing is for you. We’re not talking about saving $0.25 when you buy 3 of something you didn’t even need in the first place, here. The new strategy of ‘extreme couponing’ is to use all sources available (newspapers, internet, and store sales) to maximize your savings, and many times even get needed items for free!

There are several websites that will help you learn how to do this, but one of the best we’ve found is The Krazy Coupon Lady. There is an entire category dedicated to beginners, to help you learn how to start working with coupons for maximum savings.

Online Savings

If you need to make a larger purchase, or one outside the scope of what you can find on coupon sites and in newspaper listings, it’s time to check out the vast array of websites dedicated to helping you save money. For best results, be sure to check these sites before making any purchase, whether in-store or online.

  • Restaurants.com – substantial savings on gift certificates to use in restaurants throughout the country. Be sure to look here before planning your next night out.
  • Groupon.com & LivingSocial.com – daily deals on services and products in your neighborhood. Simply register your email address, and you’ll get deals delivered to your inbox for merchandise and services in your area.
  • RetailMeNot.com – this site is a compilation of promo codes and special offers on thousands of products and services throughout the country. Before making a big purchase, be sure to look for special offers here.
  • Ebay.com & Craigslist.com – unbelievable selections of new and used items from individuals and retailers throughout the world.
  • Promo Codes – last but not least, if you are set on a particular product, service, or retailer, go to Google.com and type in ‘X brand/company/service promo codes’ to see if any offers are available online that you can use.

If you do your homework and change the way you shop, you’ll be able to minimize your monthly and household expenses and increase your savings immediately.

Get out of Debt. Tips You Can Use.

January 3rd, 2011

Anytime is a good time to put your financial house in order. Or at least in better shape. And in these tough economic times, doing so is more important than ever.

Here are some practical ideas to help you reduce debt, and in so doing, reduce the stress that comes with carrying that debt.

Step 1: Setup a Family Budget

  1. It’s usually the little expenses that add up. While you may already have accounted for things like your mortgage and car payment in your monthly budget, you may be spending hundreds on items and services you aren’t aware of. From ATM fees, to a few extra dollars at the grocery store, to takeout lunches at work, these $2-$10 costs can really add up.
  2. For a full month, write down everything you purchase, and ask your family to do the same. At the end of the month, review your expenses and figure out what can be eliminated or reduced. Chances are, you’ll find the cash you need for steps 4 and 5.

Step 2: Check the Facts

  1. Get a free copy of your credit score at AnnualCreditReport.com. Be sure to verify the accuracy of all information, and follow-up with any creditors that have recorded incorrect information.
  2. View the payment and balance history of each account. Can you find areas where you could reduce debt by making increased payments, or eliminate debts faster?

Step 3: Contact Creditors & Make a Plan

  1. For any accounts with high interest rates or those that you could pay off faster on a different payment schedule, contact the creditors to request an interest rate adjustment. Be sure to have your credit report & score in hand when you make the call, and ask to speak with a supervisor if you are unable to reach an agreement.

Step 4: Pocket the Change

  1. Small change can really add up over time. To start building your savings account and reducing credit card debt, put aside a little extra cash everywhere you can. Pay in cash and save the change and small bills in a jar at home, and have a small amount from each paycheck automatically deposited into your savings account. Over time, you’ll see your bills shrinking and your savings growing, while you won’t feel the pinch of the extra payments.

Step 5: Increase Your Payments

  1. Now that you have a clear understanding of your interest rates and remaining balances, you’ve reduced rates wherever possible, and you’ve found some pockets of additional cash from reducing expenses and adding to your savings, it’s time to jumpstart your debt reduction.
  2. Starting with the highest interest credit card, try doubling your payment each month, or at least adding $20-$50 to each payment. By increasing your payment, you’ll pay off the debt much faster (possibly a few years faster) than if you continued making minimum payments. Once the card is paid off, you can move those higher payments to the card with the next highest interest, and so on until all debt is paid off.

Saving For College? 3 Plans To Consider.

December 31st, 2010

For many Americans, the cycle of debt is starting earlier and earlier in life. With college tuition, room and board, and various expenses incurred over 4 years in school, students are often left with mountains of debt before they even start their first job.

To stop this cycle of debt before it starts, here are some great plans to start building that college savings program years before the kids have to think about which classes to choose.

Traditional Savings Plans

They say it takes a village to raise a child. So therefore when you are faced with requests from family members and friends asking what toy to give your child for their birthday and other holidays, you can ask for help contributing to their education. A few gifts of $10 or $20 from several people a few times a year can really add up over 18 years, when saved in high-interest accounts.

When your kids are young, it is a great time to start putting aside a small amount each month towards their education. While it may feel like an added expense at the time, you’ll be thanking yourself in a few years that you didn’t have a need to clean out your 401k to fund their tuition.

Non-Traditional Plans

529 Plans

These tax-saving investment plans are a great way to save for tuition at a high-interest yield. There are no age or income restrictions, so you can virtually jump into these programs at any time prior to your child entering college. Here is a comparison of some of the best-performing 529 plans for your review.

Reimbursement Plans

These plans are similar to credit card miles/points programs. Simply register your credit and debit accounts on Upromise.com, and each time you make a purchase from one of their partner retailers (including Best Buy, Target.com, and Bed, Bath & Beyond), you’ll receive a percentage of money back toward tuition payments, a 529 plan, or an existing, eligible student loan.

Tax Incentives

Tax breaks can often be as good as cash in hand. If you are currently making tuition payments, you may be eligible for The American Opportunity and/or Lifetime Learning tax credits. Once you receive these credits, it is usually best to reinvest the cash value into your existing college savings account to cover current or future expenses.

Car Shopping? Should you Buy Pre-Owned or New?

November 18th, 2010
Aerial Shot of Car Buyers Chinese Shopping Mall

Credit: Ivan Walsh

If you’ve recently experienced a car accident, you may be in need of new vehicle to help you get back on your feet, back to work, and back to your daily life. But if that insurance reimbursement check isn’t matching up to the sticker price on a new set of wheels, you may want to take another look at the “Certified Pre-Owned” options available. Here’s why:

1) You’ll pay less for close to the same quality as a new car.

2) The dealership will generally offer a full certification inspection and warranty.

3) You may pay less for insurance & taxes.

4) You’re pre-owned car may have a very similar look and feel to the newest model on the market.

5) That “new car smell” doesn’t last as long as the higher payments on the current year’s model.

The caveats?

While there are many benefits of purchasing a new vehicle, there are also several limitations, so you’ll want to weigh the costs and benefits against your own personal situation before deciding. For instance, the warranty you’ll likely receive with a pre-owned vehicle will likely be more limited in length and coverage than with a new model. And if new features were introduced in later models, you likely won’t have access to those.

But for the most part, a Certified Pre-Owned car can be a great option to save costs while ensuring that you have a safe, reliable means of transportation to get back to your routine after an accident.

Client needs lawsuit financing? 3 Factors to Consider.

November 18th, 2010

As a Personal Injury Attorney, you may have clients that come to you for guidance on how to handle the mounting medical and household bills that pile up while they are out of work due to injury.

While you certainly aren’t expected to offer specific financial advice, you may be inclined to offer guidance that can help them through this tough time.

We have put together a quick list of factors to consider when helping a client find support during this difficult time, and invite you to leave a comment with additional feedback and suggestions of your own.

Factor 1:

How urgent is the financial situation vs. how long until a Settlement Agreement is reached?

If you expect that a settlement won’t be reached for a few months or longer, and creditors are knocking down your client’s door, it may be time for them to explore alternate sources of temporary funding. Of course, this depends on the next two factors, which will help them determine the actual need for financing, if any.

However, if the debt can easily be paid off once a settlement is reached, and you expect that to happen soon, then it may be worth their patience in waiting for the final agreement.

Factor 2: What types of debt are involved?

Let’s face it: some debt can be pushed off for awhile (some loans, credit cards, medical bills, etc.), while mortgage & car payments, insurance, and other non-negotiable needs must be taken care of. If your client is not in a credit-threatening situation and is not at risk of losing the most important necessities (shelter, transportation, etc.), it may make sense for them to explain the situation to creditors and wait for a settlement to be reached.

If the client’s home, transportation, daily needs, or health care are in jeopardy, you may want to advise them to seek alternative funding for immediate expenses.

Factor 3: Are the creditors flexible?

When faced with calls from creditors and threatening letters, many people may get to a point where they can’t handle the pressure and they resort to avoidance. In order to help your clients through this difficult time, you can advise them to contact their creditors and request deferment of debt until their Settlement is reached. If creditors are flexible in terms, this would resolve the crisis.

However, if some or all of the creditors are not willing to offer flexibility or delays in repayment, your client may wish to seek out alternative sources of funding to avoid further collection actions.

The Bottom Line:

If the above factors lead you to advise your client to seek an outside funding source, there are many options available. Installment Plans, which allow a total funding amount to be distributed to the client in regularly scheduled installments, can result in substantial savings on the total cost of funding. Lump Sum  Payments, which would be provided up-front to the client, can be used to immediately pay off larger debts and help the client dig out of a hole of accruing interest & late fees from overdue debts.