Gift is a family memento, not a ‘valuable antique’

06/21/2014 7:00 AM

06/21/2014 5:57 PM

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Must I reveal that a gift is worth less than the person I gave it to thinks?

When my brother’s daughter got married, I gave her a gift I had chosen from her registry, along with a beautiful silver bowl that had belonged to her late grandmother (my mother). When I saw my niece recently, she referred to the bowl as a “valuable antique.” But it is not a valuable antique — it’s just a very nice bowl that happens to be old.

Part of me wants to tell my niece she is mistaken about its value. But part of me wants her to treasure Mom’s bowl, and I can see that my niece likes it in part because she believes it’s worth a lot of money.

What should I do? By the way, I’m not saying my niece is shallow. She’s just human. — Elizabeth

DEAR ELIZABETH: Maybe you should tell her you’re worth a lot of money.

Just kidding. Look, it’s not as if you gave the bowl to your niece with a note saying the Metropolitan Museum of Art is dying to get their hands on it. And nothing is stopping her from having the bowl appraised or from checking online to see what comparable items are selling for.

So unless your niece tells you she’s about to spend serious money insuring it, you’re free to keep the bowl’s value to yourself.

Father needs to rewrite will

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My elderly father has repeatedly said that he wants me to have his house. But his will does not say that. The way it is written, his entire estate is to be divided evenly among my two brothers and me.

One of my brothers says that since I am Dad’s primary caretaker, I definitely should have the house, no matter what the will says. The other says it should belong to all of us. Since my father wants me to have his house, shouldn’t both of my brothers support his decision? — R.S.

DEAR R.S.: If your father wants you to have his house, he needs to rewrite his will and leave it to you. Once he does, your brothers are obligated to honor his wishes.

What they’re not obligated to do, however, is approve of his wishes. But if one of your brothers doesn’t approve, so what? Rare is the will that pleases all the beneficiaries. For example, if your father doesn’t get around to revising it, you’re not going to approve of his will.

Just say no by email

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: When a good friend asked to borrow $6,000, I lent him the money. Now I am worried he’s about to ask for more.

For one thing, he has told me that his business isn’t doing well and that his mortgage payments are about to increase. And for another, I can see he is still running up big expenses instead of cutting back (for example, he has two horses that he won’t give up).

I don’t want to lend him any more money, because I can’t afford to not have him pay me back. How do I say “no”? — Judy

DEAR JUDY: In an email. When you say “no,” you need to be direct, unequivocal and unapologetic, and that’s often difficult to do face to face. And there’s another advantage to email: If your friend’s impulse is to get angry when you turn him down, he will have time to think things over rather than saying something he might later regret.

One more thing: Somebody needs to tell this guy that guinea pigs are cute and cost a lot less to maintain than horses. But not you. Friends don’t lecture friends when they’re saying “no” to a loan.

Email your questions about money and relationships to

| King Features Syndicate

Join the Discussion

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service