My sister is a thief. When my niece was born 17 years ago, my husband and I established a Uniform Gift to Minors Act account for her and funded it with $1,000, which was invested in a growth mutual fund. On her second birthday, we contributed another $1,000. In setting up the account, we made my sister — that is, my niece’s mother — the custodian.
Well, my niece was just admitted to the college of her dreams, and when she told me, I told her I was pleased that she had the UGMA to help pay for it. But my niece had never heard of the account.
Turns out her mother had liquidated it and used the money to pay bills, not because she and her husband are poor, but because they’ve always lived beyond their means. So there’s no money for college or anything else.
Does my niece have any recourse here? Left alone, the mutual fund shares we bought her would be worth $6,000 to $7,000 today. — Gail, Kansas City
A DEAR GAIL:
Unfortunately, as long as your sister and her husband remain tapped out, it scarcely matters whether your niece has any legal recourse. The money is gone, and as the old saying goes, you can’t get blood from a stone.
Of course, your niece could notify the district attorney that property belonging to her was stolen by her mother. But that’s probably not the right path for this 17-year-old. So all that’s left is for you to give your sister an earful, which we hope and trust you have already done.Daughter-in-law split her bingo prize with care
Q DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD:
I have a hypothetical question. Suppose a father took his two sons and their wives on a cruise. Dad, both sons and one daughter-in-law each bought a bingo card for the final bingo game of the cruise, while the other daughter-in-law went off to another activity.
Before the game, the four who stayed to play agreed to split the pot if one of them won. When the bingo-playing daughter-in-law did win, she split the winnings three ways, giving one-third to Dad, one-third to the other son, and one-third to herself and her husband.
Wasn’t she too generous? Shouldn’t each of the four ticketholders have gotten a quarter of the pot, meaning she and her husband would have gotten half? — Susan
A DEAR SUSAN:
In other circumstances, probably. But since Dad paid for the cruise, giving him a third of the pot doesn’t seem the slightest bit too generous.Agreeing to concert means paying the ticket
Q DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD:
When my buddy “Max” suggested we go to a concert, I said sure. I wasn’t very interested in the band, but Max and I always have a good time when we go out together.
On the day of the concert, though, Max couldn’t get away from work (it was a genuine emergency). Since it was too late to find someone else to go with, and since I didn’t care about the band, I ended up not going.
I haven’t paid Max for my ticket yet, and I’m starting to wonder if I have to. After all, I wasn’t interested in the concert. All I really signed up for was hanging out with Max, and he didn’t show. — Domenic
A DEAR DOMENIC:
If all you signed up for was hanging out with Max, you should have told him that before he bought the tickets. While he owed you an apology for having to bail out at the last minute, the fact that he couldn’t make it doesn’t obligate him to eat the cost of your ticket to an event he had no reason to imagine you didn’t want to attend.
Now, had Max twisted your arm to get you to agree to go, that would be different. But unless he knew you were doing him a favor by saying yes, he doesn’t owe you the favor of paying for your ticket.