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  1. #1

    Default Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Prepare A Deed

    I'm a legal secretary currently employed in Indiana, I have 26 years of experience in Michigan and have personally prepared hundreds of Michigan deeds. My law firm has a client who has real estate in Michigan but is an Indiana resident. I need to find the statute that says you do not need to be a lawyer to prepare a deed. The paralegal I am working with does not believe me when I tell her that you do not have to be a lawyer licensed in Michigan to prepare deeds.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Default Re: Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Prepare A Deed

    I can't speak for Michigan but here it is unlawful to prepare a deed unless you are the property owner.

    In Michigan
    The preparation of an ordinary mortgage by completion of a form, or the completion of any standard legal form, is not considered the practice of law unless legal knowledge or discretion was involved in the document's completion. Dressel

    Realtors who filled in standard printed forms of agreements of purchase and sale, deeds, land contracts, mortgages, etc. incidental to their realty work and for which they did not charge an extra fee, had not engaged in the illegal practice of law.

    The guiding principle must be whether under the circumstances the preparation of the papers involved is the business being carried on or whether this really is ancillary to and an essential part of another business. Petitions of Ingham County Bar Asso., 69 N.W.2d 713
    It appears to be a close issue in Michigan. They allow realtors to prepare the deed where is is part of the same transaction but appear to draw the line at only preparing the deed. I would cover myself and have an attorney review the deed.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Prepare A Deed

    I would suspect writing a deed for another would fall under the practice of an attorney and writing one for another without being a licensed attorney would then be practicing law without a license.

    Now, when you say you prepare deeds for others, what exactly are you doing? Are you simply filling in blanks on a template or are you constructing the entire deed?

    Real estate agents have found there is a similar situation when it comes to buy/sell agreements. Since most use a preprinted template, it has been deemed legal but if they were to deviate from that template, they then, would be writing a contract, which requires an attorney.

    The other thing you really need to be concerned about;

    providing legal counsel. again, this is a situation the real estate agents dealt with many years ago. It was determined they must use caution to not provide legal counsel and make recommedations for actions due to their legal ramifications. That falls under the prectice of law as well.

    It would be very easy to make this same mistake when writing a deed for another party as there are important inclusions to a deed that do require an attorney if any recommendation is made.

    So, I do not know if there is any statutory support for your or against your position but if you go beyond the bounds of a simply fill in the blanks of a pre-drafted document, I believe it would rise to practicing law without a license. That, obviously, is a no no.

    Since you are a legal secretary working with a law firm, have you asked any of the attorneys there? It would seem that would be the simplest way to get an answer.

    To be honest, I would suggest an attorney should be preparing the deed anyway. While many deeds are cut and dry, there are many ways an improperly drafted deed could damage the chain of title or a seemingly simple mistake could wreak havoc in many ways. Since you had drafted the documnet, it would seem that wouldplace you in a position of liability. Do you have E and O insurance or liability insurance should one of your documents be the cause of a many dollar mistake or lawsuit?
    I am not an attorney and any advice is not to be construed as legal advice. You might even want to ignore my advice. Actually, there are plenty of real attorneys that you might want to ignore as well.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Prepare A Deed

    Quote Quoting IN legal secretary
    View Post
    I'm a legal secretary currently employed in Indiana, I have 26 years of experience in Michigan and have personally prepared hundreds of Michigan deeds. My law firm has a client who has real estate in Michigan but is an Indiana resident. I need to find the statute that says you do not need to be a lawyer to prepare a deed. The paralegal I am working with does not believe me when I tell her that you do not have to be a lawyer licensed in Michigan to prepare deeds.

    Thanks!
    There are 2 issues here, what each state, MI and IN considers the unlawful practice of law. Each respective State Supreme courts should have outlined what does and what does not. As far as what lwpat has stated. I had ocassion to look up this exact issue once for my state. It was contained in the Jurisprudence volumes under Courts I believe it was at the law library of my local Univeristy.

    I think it is more ingrained in the common law, as lwpat points out then statutory. I have also seen similar law, if I remember correctly, on this exact issue.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    6

    Default Re: Do You Have To Be A Lawyer To Prepare A Deed

    Would this also apply in Texas? I have someone who is purchasing two golf lots from me and it seems it would be a simple "Warranty Deed" transfer. I am sure I am abit naive concerning the situation, but how do other people have "sale by owner"? Do they do their own documents?

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