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20 Questions to Discuss When You Share

Submitted by on October 13, 2012 – 8:55 pmNo Comments

When you sit down to discuss the details of a sharing arrangement, here is a list of 20 categories of questions to discuss. It may not be quite as entertaining as a good old fashioned game of “Twenty Questions,” but it can be interesting and revealing. Without realizing it, sharers sometimes have different expectations about what they’ll be sharing, how often, for what reasons, or with whom. By working through these issues early on, you’ll build the foundation for a smooth sharing operation.

□   1. Why are we sharing?

  • What are our personal, practical, financial, or environmental goals?
  • What do we each need or want to get out of the sharing arrangement?

□   2. What are we sharing?

  • And for that matter, what are we not sharing?

□   3. Whom are we sharing with?

  • Do our cosharers need to meet any particular qualifications?

□   4. How many people are we sharing with?

  • What are the pros and cons of having a large or small sharing group?

□   5. How will the timing of our arrangement work?

  • When will it stop and start?
  • Will it happen in phases?

□   6. Who owns the shared item(s)?

  • Will one person own it and let others use it?
  • Will we each own specific items or parts of the property?
  • Will we each own a percentage share of the whole property?  If so, in what proportions?

□   7. Should we form a separate legal entity, such as a nonprofit organization?

□   8. Should our group have a name, and what should we call ourselves?

□   9. What do we get to do?

  • What benefits or services to we get from this sharing arrangement?
  • How much can we use the shared item(s) or services?

□   10. How will we make decisions?

  • Will we all take part in decision-making or delegate decisions to a small group?
  • Do we all have equal decision making power?
  • Must all decisions be unanimous or made by majority vote?

□   11. What responsibilities will each of us have?

  • Will we assign roles and tasks?
  • Will we rotate responsibilities?
  • Will anyone receive extra benefits in return for extra responsibilities?

□   12. What are the rules for using our shared property or meeting our shared responsibilities?

□   13. How will we handle administrative matters like scheduling, communication, and record


□   14. How will we divide expenses?

  • Will there be initial buy-in or start-up contributions? Will we need any loans?
  • How will we divide overhead and variable costs?
  • How will we collect money? Through regular dues or by reckoning expenses in some other way?  Will we start a bank account?
  • What kinds of unexpected costs could arise and how will we prepare for them?
  • Who will keep track of our money?
  • What happens if a member cannot pay?

□   15. How will we manage risk and liability?

  • What risks are involved in our sharing arrangement and how can we reduce them?
  • How is the risk distributed (i.e., who could suffer loss or be liable for damages)?
  • Do we want to redistribute risk by making agreements with each other or purchasing insurance?

□   16. Are there legal requirements we need to follow?

  • Are there any required licenses or permits?
  • Will this bring up any tax or employment law questions?
  • Are there any legal roadblocks arising from zoning laws or private land covenants?
  • What steps must we take to become a legal entity?

□   17. How will we resolve conflicts or disputes?

□   18. How will we bring new people into the group?

  • What procedures will new members follow?
  • How will new members be oriented?
  • What is our policy on guests?

□   19. How can a member leave the group?

  • What steps must be taken when a member leaves voluntarily?
  • Under what circumstances can a member be asked to leave the group?

□   20. How do we end the sharing arrangement?

This post has is adapted from: The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community, by Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow (Nolo 2009)

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