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Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 1999 /23 Kislev, 5760

Bruce Williams

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My neighbor won't maintain even a modicum of civility


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- DEAR BRUCE: To call my neighbor irresponsible would be a compliment. For years, we have had to call the police, health authorities and others just to get him to maintain a modicum of civility. The day before yesterday, my car was sitting -- properly parked -- on my property. He came out of his driveway like a bat out of you know where, couldn't stop, and wound up coming about 5 feet up my driveway nicking my back fender. It's not a bad ding, but the body shop quoted the damage to be as much as $300. When I asked my neighbor about his insurance, he told me -- with a laugh -- to go ahead and sue him. "Are you going to sue me for that little bit of money?" he taunted, "I'm not giving this to my insurance company, and I don't have to tell you who they are." What can I do? --- A READER

DEAR READER: He is correct that he doesn't have to tell you who the insurance company is, but that shouldn't slow you down. You can start an action against him in small claims court for the amount of money that you have lost. To do this will cost you very little money. If he chooses to defend himself without the insurance company, fine -- it should only help your side. If he turns it over to his insurance company, the likelihood is they will negotiate a settlement with you given the facts involved. Don't play dead -- go get the sucker!

DEAR BRUCE: You keep telling people to "get a lawyer" every time someone is buying or selling real estate. However, I have not heard one single solitary argument that says I should spend $500 of my hard-earned money on an attorney. I am smart enough to figure it out for myself. Give me one reason, and I will apologize. -- L.T., via e-mail

DEAR L.T.: Get ready to apologize, tiger. When you go to a closing as a purchaser, you will sign your name at least two dozen times, maybe more. I will pay your expenses to my part of the world and present to you the typical closing papers, and if you can explain what every paper is for, what it says, what conditions are imposed, then I will write a public apology to you. I don't believe that you will be able to do it. Want to take the shot? These are papers that people sign everyday with the attitude of "just sign it; it doesn't matter". If it doesn't matter, why do the papers exist to begin with? Of course they matter, and there's one thing that every document has in common: it was drawn up by an attorney who is protecting her client's position, not yours.



Send your questions to JWR contributor Bruce Williams by clicking here. (Questions of general interest will be answered in future columns. Owing to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.) Interested in buying or selling a house? Let Bruce Williams' "House Smart" be your guide. (Sales of the book help fund JWR).

Up

12/01/99:Long-distance rentals a bad idea
11/29/99: Mortgage strategy A-OK
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11/16/99: Value is what will sell
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09/29/99: Trusting only one financial planner
09/27/99: Adult children should help out
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09/13/99: Always use an attorney!
09/10/99: Whose taxes are they, anyway?
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08/09/99: 'Pre-approved' doesn't mean a thing
08/06/99: Only you can determine your investments
08/04/99: Bank IRA the lowest-risk option
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08/02/99: Get the survey BEFORE you buy the house!
07/28/99: Get a lawyer -- it's worth it!
07/27/99: If it ain't broke...

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