2. What Are We Sharing?

Make sure all of you agree on what you are doing and what you are sharing, and, for that matter, what you are not doing and what you are not sharing. You may be surprised to find that others planned to share more—or less—than you had in mind.

EXAMPLE: Tom and Marilyn are next door neighbors. They decide to remove the fence between their properties to create a large shared yard space that their children can use to play soccer and football. They write down their purpose:

"Tom and Marilyn agree to remove the fence between their properties to give their children more space to play sports."

This purpose is limited to sports; it doesn't contemplate other uses of the shared yard. If Tom planted pumpkins in Marilyn's yard or started using the yards to raise goats, Marilyn could object that this was not within their original agreed-upon purpose. How­ever, if Tom and Marilyn would like to leave open the possibility of using the shared yards for other purposes, they could use broader language, like this:

"Tom and Marilyn agree to remove the fence between their properties. The purpose of removing the fence is to provide the families in both households more space for outdoor activities, including but not limited to playing sports, planting vegetables, and raising goats. Tom and Marilyn must both consent to any use of or activity in the shared yard."

If you will be sharing a lot of things, as is often the case in shared housing or office arrangements, you should make a list of what is being shared and what is not. You can attach the list to your written agreement as an addendum (see Chapter 5). In your agreement, it's also a good idea to describe the shared property in detail ("the HP 1500 Printer") and note its condition ("that's three years old and occasionally jams on large print jobs"). Describing the property in detail will help you determine the value of the item, in case someone breaks it and is asked to compensate the owner(s).

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