Money Manners

If you know what’s detailed in trust, you’ll know what you’re due

King Features Syndicate

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: Before they passed away, my grandparents put their home and farm into a living trust. After they died, the property was managed by my uncle, and my three siblings and I were supposed to inherit it when he died. Well, he passed three years ago, and my brother became the trustee, but not much else has happened.

My siblings and I get a small check after each crop is sold, but my mother thinks we’re getting very little money compared with what the crops are worth. Meanwhile, my brother has never said anything about our inheritance. What should we do? — Sally

DEAR SALLY: At least your brother isn’t asking you to pick the crops.

Seriously, if your mother thinks you’re being paid less than the crops are worth, maybe she ought to speak to her son about it. After three years, it’s certainly time for someone to speak up.

So ask your brother for a copy of your aunt and uncle’s trust document, which, as a beneficiary of the trust, you are most likely entitled to see. Or, if you prefer, you can hire a lawyer to ask your brother for the document, something we strongly encourage you to do if your brother is not forthcoming.

Once you know what the trust says, the lawyer can help you make sure that you and your other siblings are getting everything to which you’re entitled, from money to property to a proper accounting. Good luck.

Consider splitting cost of car door repair

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: I recently bought a nice used Toyota Camry. It has a few small nicks and dings, but basically the car looks great, and I love it. Last week, my friend “Kayla” put a noticeable scratch on the driver’s door while parking next to my car in the driveway. The problem is, fixing the scratch requires repainting the entire door, and that costs a lot of money.

Kayla has insurance, but she doesn’t want the accident to go on her record, so she’s really hoping I’ll let this go. I can understand what she’s thinking: It’s a used car; the door was not in mint condition before she hit it; and one more scratch doesn’t matter.

But it matters to me. Because of its size and location, I see the scratch every time I get into the car, and I want her to fix it. Am I being unreasonable? — B.T.

DEAR B.T.: Have you considered getting in the car from the passenger’s side?

Kidding aside, you would certainly be within your rights to insist that Kayla fix the scratch. When an accident is unequivocally one person’s fault, that person is obligated to repair the damage, period. We don’t get to decide that the scratch we put on someone else’s car isn’t worth fixing.

But that said, if the scratch Kayla caused is not very different from other nicks and dings in the door, it would be unreasonable for you to insist that she bear the entire cost of restoring it. Since the other blemishes also will be repaired if the door is repainted, and there will be a real benefit to you that has nothing to do with the damage caused by Kayla, you should offer to split the cost of the work with her, unless the other blemishes aren’t nearly as eye-catching.

Or, if you’re unwilling to share the expense of restoring your door, you should graciously tell your friend not to worry about the scratch. And if that’s what you choose to do, Kayla should take you out for a very nice dinner to make amends for the damage she’s done to your car.

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

| King Features Syndicate

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