It seems quite clear that, if you own property, certain basic details should be written down somewhere. When was the house bought? Are there mortgages, what’s owed, who is paid and how? The usual 5W stuff: who, what, where, when and why.

Are there liens or pledges against the property? How is it owned – solely, tenants in, common, joint, in trust? Where is the deed, land survey, architect’s drawings?

But, paint?

Consider this: There’s a small but very noticeable mark on a wall. It needs covering but, if you’re like most of us, you can’t remember what brand of paint you used, let alone the precise tint. You may be able to get a fairly close match with one of those color match chips, but fairly close isn’t good enough in an exposed area.

If you can’t be absolutely certain, how do you expect your spouse or someone else to be after you’re gone?

There’s a simple solution that can save you from having to repaint an entire wall or room: make a list of paint brands and shades, and when and where they were applied. Dab a little paint on the outside of a partially-used can and write on the label where it was used. (And don’t forget to store the can upside-down to avoid having to dig through a tough skin next time it’s opened.) Add varnishes and stains to the list, along with instructions for duplicating the finish: how much stain, what type of finish and how many coats.

This list will be useful to you while you’re still alive, or to new owners if you sell.

A simple list that takes almost no time to prepare, and to add to with each new paint job, can save a little blemish from resulting in a major redecorating effort.

This is just one of dozens of helpful ideas presented in The Estate Manual and its electronic counterpart, THEMES™ – estate planning’s missing link. The manual organizes the human side of estate planning. This area is often overlooked, but it makes a huge (and obvious) difference to survivors. It is an easy-to-use system for making sure nothing is left out of your planning. Learn more at

Sydney Tremayne


  • Sydney Tremayne has enjoyed successful careers as a journalist on three continents, as a government official ("Whew!" is his only comment), and as investment advisor. His first book - on investing - was a Canadian best seller.

    His most recent book, The Estate Manual, puts a human face on estate planning. It encourages readers to take charge of all the personal details -- documents, bank accounts, real estate, training an executor.

    Sydney is an Empowering Caregivers featured expert, learn more about Sydney