DEAR ABBY: Please print this for me on behalf of myself and all the other well-intentioned folks out there who have lent money to others.
"Dear Friend, Family Member or Co-Worker: You came to me in a state of panic -- unable to make your car payment, pay your lawyer's fee, your taxes or the light bill. You asked for my help. I gave it to you because I respected and trusted you enough to go out on a limb for you. Please honor your promise to repay me without my having to ask you.
"Please don't show up in a new car or with photos on your new cell phone from your exotic vacation until I have been repaid. Please don't invent a reason to be 'mad' at me, as if that erases the loan. And please do not ask for another loan while you still owe me money!"
Abby, I know you'll say I should have drawn up official papers for the loan but, the truth is, few people expect to be shafted by the people they care about. All someone who owes money has to do is pick up the phone, initiate a payment plan and then stick to it. -- FEELING USED IN NEW BRIGHTON, PA.
DEAR FEELING USED: Your problem isn't a new one. William Shakespeare wrote, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." I would be remiss if I didn't stress to you -- and the rest of my readers -- the importance of talking to a lawyer or CPA before lending any significant amount of money to anyone. (By "significant" I mean any amount that you can't afford to lose.) If papers are drawn up and for some reason the borrower is unable to repay the loan, there could be a tax benefit for the lender.