DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: We have two sons and don’t know which one to choose as the executor for our estate. One lives locally but has family responsibilities that keep him busy, while the other has no family but lives out of state. Which one do you think we should appoint? By the way, neither is very good at managing investments or sensibly handling large sums of money, so their relative financial skills are not a reason to choose one over the other. — A.D., Kansas City
DEAR A.D.: No, but they are a reason to choose neither of them.
We’re not kidding. Forget about your sons’ relative proximity and relative availability to carry out the often time-consuming tasks of an executor. You have a bigger problem: For this job, prudence and financial sophistication aren’t optional, they’re mandatory — and neither of your children has either.
Fortunately, neither ethics nor the law requires that an executor must be an heir. So do yourselves and your sons a favor and appoint a trusted attorney, accountant or wise friend to do the job.
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Concern doesn’t yet warrant police
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Five afternoons a week, a young woman takes care of our two toddlers so my wife can work (she’s a writer). “Emily” is great with the kids, and we both like her. The problem is, we suspect that she’s stealing from us. We don’t know for sure, but small items are disappearing, and there’s just no other explanation. What should we do? Fire her? Call the agency that employs her? Call the police? Help! — Worried
DEAR WORRIED: Don’t be rash. In particular, since you’re not certain that this woman is guilty of a crime, don’t call the police. Instead, ask Emily if she knows anything about the missing items. If you’re not satisfied with her answer, then terminate her services, and let her agency know why. You owe it to their other clients.
This said, have you searched your entire house — top to bottom, especially your kids’ rooms — for the missing items? Because you owe it to Emily to find them if they’re anywhere to be found.
Family needs to know about mom’s troubles
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: A year ago, my mother finally confessed that she is in financial trouble. It turns out she owes a lot of money on her house (she’s refinanced several times), is behind on her state and federal income taxes and has a mountain of credit-card debt. Unfortunately, and in spite of many heated discussions with me, my mother still refuses to live within her means. In particular, she continues to pick up dinner tabs for everyone and doles out $50 gift cards to friends and relatives “just because.”
With the holidays coming, I’m concerned that she’s going to go even deeper into the hole. What can I do to get her to stick to greeting cards this year? Some of my family members have gotten awfully comfortable with being on the take from Mom. — Frustrated Child
DEAR FRUSTRATED: Tell her there really is a Santa Claus, but it’s not her.
Seriously, if your relatives who are such eager recipients of your mother’s largesse are oblivious to her predicament, fill them in. Then explain that they’ll need to make a contribution to the “Bail Out Mom” fund equal to the value of any gifts they accept from her. In short, let them know in no uncertain terms that the good old co-dependency days are over.
Also: You say that after a year of heated discussions with you, your mother still refuses to get her spending under control. So is it possible that you’re the wrong person to try to bring her to grace? Don’t misunderstand: We’re not blaming you for your mother’s profligacy or pigheadedness. But there would be no shame in handing over the whip-cracking job to another family member, someone who can drag her to the professional debt counselor or Spenders Anonymous meetings she so desperately needs.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate