Who owes you what?

Let me tell you an everyday sort of tale. Summer is over, there’s a cool nip in the air and Good Neighbor is hard at work preparing his garden for winter. In the process of giving a final trim to his lawn, he runs over the garden hose he needs to spray the grass after fertilizing it. A three-inch gash makes it useless and, being Sunday, it can’t be replaced right away.

No great problem: Mr. McGillicuddy next door is happy to lend his hose.

That night, Mr. McGillicuddy has a massive and unexpected heart attack and dies instantly. Everyone is shattered; he was a good man, far too young, seemed fitter than most, etcetera, etcetera. The McGillicuddy home overflows with well-wishers, one of whom is the hose-borrowing neighbor.

This, of course, is not the right time to return the hose, so it stays in Good Neighbor’s garage until a more opportune time.

Spring rolls around. By now, Good Neighbor is embarrassed to have forgotten the hose for so long. Next door, Mrs. McGillicuddy hunts high and low for the missing object, eventually giving up in disgust and buying a new one. One of life’s little mysteries!

The garden hose and its value is not the point here. It might just as easily have been the lawnmower. The point is that an honest neighbor was embarrassed and a wife was frustrated when neither needed to be.

A simple list of who’s borrowed what, updated with each new borrowing or return, would have prevented the problems. Good Neighbor wouldn’t have felt guilty and wife’s serenity and a few dollars would have been preserved.

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 http://www.estatemanual.com.

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