DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I want out of the lakeside vacation cottage that I inherited from my grandfather. He left it to me a couple of years ago, with the request that I let my cousins use it, too.
Well, between property taxes, utilities and maintenance costs, the place is very expensive to own. But the real problem is my cousins, who use the cottage a lot but never contribute a dime to the upkeep. Also, they help themselves to whatever food, beer or staples are around and never replace what they consume. And they rarely clean up after themselves, either.
My wife and I want to put an end to this by selling the cottage. My cousins, though, say that would be wrong, that my grandfather wanted them to always be able to use it. Is it possible they’re right? — A.R.
DEAR A.R.: There’s an easy way for your cousins to be able to use the cottage as much as they like: They can buy it from you. And in keeping with the spirit of your grandfather’s request, you can sell it to them at a modest discount from its market value.
But to answer your question: No, your cousins are not right — not, that is, unless your grandfather stipulated that if you accepted the cottage, you were obligated to keep it forever in order to provide them with lifetime access. And we doubt he did. Although your grandfather may have thought he had everyone’s best interests at heart when he asked you to share the cottage with his other grandchildren, it appears he misjudged their characters.
P.S. Who knows? Maybe if your cousins buy the place, they’ll realize they should invite you to use it. Then you can show them how a guest is supposed to behave.
First check whether Mom is OK with arrangement
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My sister just announced that she’s going to charge our elderly mother $1,500 a month to move in with her. Mom currently lives in her own apartment and is sharp as a tack, but her health is deteriorating, and she can no longer live alone.
According to my sister, it would cost Mom at least $1,500 per month for assisted living, plus Mom would have to pay extra for many services. So my sister claims that $1,500 a month is a good deal for Mom.
I think that it’s unconscionable to charge your own mother to live with you and that either my sister should give Mom a home gratis or we should move Mom into an assisted-living residence — which, by the way, she can afford. Am I right to confront my sister over this? — Chris
DEAR CHRIS: Dial down the indignation. It is not uncommon — or unreasonable — for parents who move in with their children to pay rent or to otherwise contribute financially to the household.
Still, if you think it would be unseemly for your mother to pay to live in a daughter’s home, you could always offer to write your sister a monthly check for $1,500 yourself. That way you’d be paying for your mother’s room and board while your sister would be contributing the labor involved in taking care of her 24/7.
But more importantly, what does your sharp-as-a-tack mother want to do? Because if the deal with your sister is OK with her, there’s only one reason why it shouldn’t be OK with you, and that’s because you believe your mother needs care that your sister is unable or unwilling to provide.
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| King Features Syndicate