DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Two of my children have godparents who give them gifts at Christmas. The other child’s godparents do not give her a gift. How do we handle this? The children are 3 to 6 years old.
— Wondering, Kansas City
DEAR WONDERING: Don’t you hate teachable moments?
Seriously, since your children are so little, you might want to have Santa leave an extra present under the tree for the child whose godparents aren’t gift givers. But as they get older, you’ll need to explain to them that not every godparent gives Christmas presents, and — more generally and more importantly — that gifts are not the way to measure love.
Is no-work-no-pay policy fair to housecleaner?
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Please tell me my husband is wrong. We have a housecleaner who comes every other week. The trouble is, on some of her work days we’re out of town and can’t use her. When possible, I try to get her to come on another day. But when we’re gone for long stretches, that doesn’t work. Since we have an every-two-weeks arrangement with her, I think we should pay her even when we’re away. But my husband thinks there’s no reason to when she doesn’t work. Who’s right?
DEAR UNCOMFORTABLE: Who’s right depends on how much in the way of other employment opportunities your housecleaner has. If her choices are limited — if she can’t afford to lose you as a client — then you and your husband are taking advantage of her situation by expecting her to hold days for which she may not be paid. On the other hand, if there’s a decent market for her services — if without too much difficulty she can replace you as a client or find a different job — then you’re not taking advantage of her, and you’re not obligated to pay her when she doesn’t work.
All that said, commitment to a schedule is a two-way street. So if you and your husband decide to continue with your no-work-no-pay policy, don’t be surprised if your housecleaner leaves you for a family where her commitment is more appreciated.
Rely on attorney to reach estranged brothers
DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My widower father recently passed away, and I am the sole executor of his estate. According to his will, the estate is to be divided equally among my two brothers and me. Unfortunately, they’re dishonorable, untrustworthy people, and we’ve been estranged for years.
When we had to meet to discuss settling Dad’s affairs, one brother asserted that my father had orally authorized him to handle the distribution of Dad’s household items and personal property (I doubt very much that this is true). The other brother is an investment broker who has been personally managing my father’s money, and he was supposed to bring an accounting of my father’s investments. But the statements he provided were ridiculously vague (intentionally, I believe). How should I proceed in distributing the estate when I have serious doubts about each of my brothers’ representations?
DEAR JOE: Lucky you. Since you’re estranged from these guys, you’re free to do what you think is right without worrying about their feelings.
So tell Mr. Dad-Told-Me that, as your father’s executor, you intend to follow to the letter the written instructions in his will, and that includes the instructions for distributing his personal property. Also, have the attorney who is helping you probate the will send a letter to your broker brother insisting on a complete accounting of your father’s investments. If your brother resists or appears to be hiding assets, the attorney will know to which regulatory agencies you should report your brother’s misconduct. However, unless your broker brother is foolish and arrogant as well as ethically challenged, he’ll realize he has to provide the requisite information or risk losing his license.
Look, your father put you in charge for a reason. We suspect that means he expected you to be appropriately wary of your brothers.
Email your questions about money and relationships to firstname.lastname@example.org.
| King Features Syndicate