Even Friends Need to Document Agreements

In theory, a handshake does the trick. In practice, a piece of paper is better.

For a short time about 20 years ago, my wife and I owned 2 houses. One was rented out. One of my best friends and his family rented it from us. A couple of days after we agreed to the deal, I showed up with a paper lease for he and his wife to sign. He looked at it and said, “We don’t need this. We are best friends and I trust you.”

I replied, “And I trust you too. But I don’t trust our memories, and I want to remain best friends.”

They signed the agreement. We never needed that agreed to settle a difference, but I felt better having it just in case.

Yesterday the courts had their final say in an argument over who was part of the winning group of a $50 million lottery ticket. The claiming group had 19 members, but another 9 people claimed that they should be considered part of the group. It took two years for the court to decide that only the 19 would get a portion of the winnings.

I was a workplace lottery group captain for over 3 years. Everything was documented. A paper list was posted in my cubicle, and emails were sent to each official member of the group, with an attached scan of the tickets. It was not quite a monthly group. Everyone put in $10 and a certain portion was spent on Lotto Max each week until the money was gone. Then people chose to join again or not. If we won free tickets or small cash amounts, that would just extend the life of the current batch. When the money was gone, each person had an opportunity to join the next group, or decline. Declines resulted in a request to confirm the decline via email so I had a “paper trail” to prove the matter.

Bottom line, when millions of dollars are at stake, best to document it, as money can easily ruin friendships.

p.s. Another $50 million dollar win is still before the courts. In that case, the group leader bought the ticket at the same store as I used, just minutes after I bought mine. Darn!!!

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