Do It Yourself Projects: They Really Are Owner Beware!

This past weekend I decided to fix the leaking transmission in my old Jeep. It was so simple, I did not need to take it to a mechanic. I bought the parts, crawled under the Jeep and dove right in. A few minutes later I literally felt like I dove in: there was transmission fluid everywhere, all over me and all over the floor! No big deal; I can clean it up.

Then it came time to put things back together. The replacement part was a different size. Now I had to remove more parts to get it in. As I slid the new part in, I realized it just didn’t fit! Now the Jeep sits with the transmission exposed and I am waiting for more parts! The mechanic probably could have solved this problem in an hour.

When I came into the office today, tired and sore, I read a case about a person who thought they had a first mortgage. Turns out, the Court ruled that they didn’t because of some language buried in the various mortgage documents.

Then a client asked me to review a deed from a former neighbor. He thought he bought good title to a strip of property some 5 years ago. It turns out that there was a prior mortgage that was foreclosed. Now they are buying the strip again.

When you think about whether you should have an attorney review documents, get title searches and the like, think about my Jeep. If you do it yourself, (a) how complicated is what you are doing (and do you know enough to answer that question) and (b) no matter how simple, can you live with the consequences of doing it wrong?

I don’t need to drive the Jeep for two weeks; I can deal with the consequences of not knowing what I am doing. If I needed to drive it this week, that would be a different story!

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