Ask SAM

Q: Will the “Downton Abbey” movie coming to theaters on Friday later be available on DVD?

S.P.

Answer: There’s no doubt it will, but a release date for home video is rarely announced before the theatrical run of a film. After all, the studios want you to go to the theater and see the movie. In a month or two, you may want to check the website VideoETA.com, which tracks when movies and TV shows are scheduled to be released on DVD and Blu-ray. Typically, such releases are about three or four months after the theatrical run, but that varies; it is possible that Universal Home Entertainment will release the movie on home video in time for Christmas sales.

The movie is playing at many theaters locally starting today, including Aperture Cinema, the Grand 18, the AMC Hanes 12, and the AMC Classic 10 in Winston-Salem. A review of the film is in Thursday’s Relish entertainment section.

Q: Now that we’re in hurricane season, I would like to find the correct way to word and send a letter to neighbors who have large trees that would probably damage my house if they were to come down in a storm. Should I send them a certified letter?

M.S.

Answer: If trees on neighbors’ properties are weakened or leaning in such a way that they may very well fall and damage your property in a storm, it may make sense to have a friendly conversation with your neighbors to alert them to the potential problem, according to local attorney Mike Wells. “Sometimes your neighbors may not even be aware of the potential problem,” he said. “This happened to my family a few years ago when a neighbor alerted us to a leaning/compromised tree on the back of our lot. We appreciated the heads-up, and we had the tree removed.”

He said that you should be prepared for your neighbor to have a different view about whether a tree would probably come down in a storm, especially during severe winds. “Landowners are generally not guarantors that trees on their property will never come down and damage a neighbor’s property unless the compromised tree should put a reasonable person on notice that it may very well happen,” Wells said.

“Good neighbors are a really good thing, and those relationships should be maintained if at all possible,” Wells added. “A good rule of thumb is: how would you feel if a neighbor acted in a certain way towards you?”

Considering that, he said, sending a certified letter at this stage might not be a good thing. “Of course, if you informed a neighbor of a clear problem and the neighbor did nothing when they clearly should take an action to remove the potential problem, it might, under those narrow facts, make sense to have a record that the neighbor was on notice of the potential problem,” Wells said. “But be mindful that sending a certified letter to someone may raise the temperature on the issue. This is why a friendly personal conversation as a first step makes a lot of sense.”

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