First rule of thumb: Business is business. Verbal agreements that can’t be substantiated are worthless. It seems to always disintegrate into he said, she said. Documenting transactions, identifying expectations of both parties and using paper trail exchanges can save you from arbitration, going to court and destroying relationships, especially among family and friends. Consider this real life horror story regarding not paying attention to the docs you’re signing. Enter into the story: a woman in her early 60’s is working two jobs, supporting her disabled daughter and another daughter who has a child with her boyfriend. The boyfriend’s sister was living there, but had moved out. All of them lived together in a home that the woman had been paying the mortgage on for years.
The boyfriend decided to get a new girlfriend and move out. Then, out of nowhere, the boyfriend’s sister decided she wanted the house. The woman and her daughters believed she had signed a lease agreement with an option to purchase. The woman thought she recalled three names on the deed, one of them being her own. A title company search revealed that there was only one name on the deed. And it wasn’t hers; it was, in fact, the ex-boyfriend’s sister’s name.
All these years she was the one working and paying for the home, doing so because she believed that she was buying the home and now it appeared she was just renting the home and would be evicted. This could have been avoided if she had taken the documents to an attorney and had them reviewed before signing. But because she relied on what the boyfriend and his sister were telling her, she lost everything. Elizabeth Westby, J.D. contributed to this press release.