How to fairly divide cost of vacation house

05/21/2014 11:18 AM

05/24/2014 7:10 PM

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: We need a tie-breaker. For our family reunion, we’re renting a big house on a lake for seven nights. There will be six families staying there, ranging in size from one person (a bachelor) to five (two parents and their three kids).

Half of us think we should just split the rent six ways since there are six families. But the other half think we should divide the rent by the total number of people attending, with each family paying that amount times the number of people in their family. Who’s right? — Six Siblings

DEAR SIBLINGS: Your last name must not be “Hilton.” Otherwise you’d know that what matters isn’t the number of families or the number of people in each of them; it’s how many bedrooms each family will occupy and how nice each bedroom is.

Your rental house is likely to have a comfortable master suite, as well as a room so small that its occupant will have to, as the old joke goes, step outside to change his mind. So you guys need to agree on a price for each bedroom, prices that together add up to the rental fee. Then each family should pay for the bedrooms its members use.

Consider wedding gift a business gesture

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I invited an important client to my daughter’s wedding last May (I’m a CPA). He and his wife declined the invitation and never sent a gift. Now they’ve invited my wife and me to their son’s wedding.

I know two wrongs don’t make a right. But since this couple ignored our daughter’s big day, the idea of sending their son a gift doesn’t sit well with me. Also, my wife and I aren’t going to the wedding. So what would you do? — S.B.

DEAR S.B.: It would depend on how much we valued the client.

Seriously, you have good reason to be annoyed. But when your client’s child gets married and you’re invited to the wedding, you’d be foolish not to send a gift. So send one. As Michael Corleone would say, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

Executor role needs vetting

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I’m planning to leave most of my estate to the local animal shelter. Because my assets consist mainly of my small home, I don’t want my estate to be paying thousands of dollars to some lawyer to serve as executor. Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone to ask to do the job.

Now, though, my neighbor’s daughter, who seems honest and hardworking, has volunteered to be my executor, and she doesn’t even want to be paid. My question is: How much of a burden would that be on her? And how much of a bequest should I leave to her to say “thank you”? — Roy

DEAR ROY: Back up. You’re getting way ahead of yourself in worrying about how much to leave to someone it appears you scarcely know.

First of all, your neighbor’s daughter needs to be vetted. “Seems honest” isn’t good enough when it comes to appointing an executor for an estate that must be worth five or six figures. Before tapping this woman for a job in which integrity is essential, you need to determine whether she has it.

Plus, not everyone has the qualifications to handle an executor’s responsibilities. If your neighbor’s daughter is innumerate, which is not uncommon, or simply financially unsophisticated, the damage she could do to the value of your estate would make the lawyer’s fee you’re trying to avoid pale by comparison.

We get it: You really don’t want to pay some lawyer. But you owe it to your other beneficiaries to become better acquainted with your neighbor’s daughter — much better acquainted — before you appoint her your executor.

Email your questions about money and relationships to questions@moneymanners.net.

| King Features Syndicate

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