You definitely need a lawyer!

Your local bar association can refer you to one. I practice law. I don’t know the level of expertise you need. A general lawyer who will be less expensive can probably handle it. If it is more complex, however, you would probably do better seeing someone with expertise in this particular field. Discuss it with your local bar association. Be prepared when you see the lawyer. Write down the salient points. While some lawyers provide free or low-cost consultations, you are on the meter after that. Don’t have long personal conversations about the weather–you are paying for the time. It is very important to control costs. Ask for an estimate for the entire job. Keep track of the hours you spend with your lawyer. Ask friends in the area how much they paid for similar legal services.

Also, pay attention to the retainer agreement. I had problems with a lawyer billing me. The charges were outrageous. I wrote a detailed letter stating my objections and proof that I was being billed for things that were not in the retainer agreement. He was furious but cancelled the bill. You do need a lawyer. It does not sound complex but there may be issues in your case that you are not aware of yet. I find that a client says something crucial as a side thought and the omission is crucial.

Yet finding a good lawyer one can afford is almost impossible in these parts. I had two free consultations, and in both cases after it was determined that I wasn’t worth millions, they both told me that it wasn’t worth their time open a file on me and my best bet was to negotiate on my own. This is because due to the real estate bubble, the current equity in my home is enough to pay off my debt. Unfortunately, this leaves me at age 59 with no place to live, a daughter in college and with no job since it’s my business that is going under.

Surely there must be some better advice out there. O. J. gets to play golf with millionaires in Florida while being bankrupt in California and I’m going to become a street musician in the New York subways if I’m lucky. After finding no decent legal advice, I think getting illegal advice is the next logical step. Where can I find some of that?