Money Manners

Contact lawyer, not vindictive sister, about father’s trust

King Features Syndicate

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My sister is mad at me because I wouldn’t give her what she claimed was “her share” of our mother’s ashes when Mom died. (Mom wanted all of her ashes to be scattered at a lake she loved, and I followed Mom’s instructions.)

Now our father has died, and my sister, who’s his co-executor, is being vindictive. She didn’t tell my brother and me when Dad’s memorial service was; she won’t say what she plans to do with his ashes; and she has refused our help in clearing out his house. In other words, she’s taking everything.

Moreover, she hasn’t said a word about Dad’s trust or the distribution of his assets, though it’s been three months since our father died. How long should I wait before I ask my sister or the other co-executor, Dad’s former law partner, directly about what’s going on? — C.P.

DEAR C.P.: Wait no more. But forget about contacting your hostile sister. Instead, contact your father’s law partner and ask for a copy of your father’s trust. If you are not a beneficiary or are otherwise not entitled to a copy, he or she will tell you. And if you are a beneficiary — and it sounds like you believe you are — the lawyer should provide you with one. You can then discuss with him or her when you can expect to receive your father’s bequest.

As for your sister, offer to leave her a share of your ashes. Maybe she has a sense of humor.

Accusatory guest could be confused

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: My wife and I recently heard about a situation in which a guest loudly proclaimed — 100 percent falsely — that an item in the home he and others were visiting had been stolen from him. It got us thinking about what would have been the right way to respond to this guy. What should the hosts have done? — Like to Be Prepared

DEAR PREPARED: They should have crossed this gentleman off their list of future invitees.

However, if the offender is a confused elderly person, that’s different. In that case, keep him on the guest list and the item he wants in a drawer.

Make sure children repay loans

DEAR JEANNE AND LEONARD: We have three children and are leaving one-third of our estate to each of them. Two of our children will owe the estate money after we’re gone because we’ve made significant loans to them.

All three of our children know about the loans, and my husband and I have kept meticulous records of the payments one of our children has made so far. (The other child who borrowed money can’t afford to pay us anything.) Do you see a problem with our plan? — Gloria G.

DEAR GLORIA: In a word, yes. There are circumstances under which a loan that is not being repaid becomes, in the eyes of the law, a gift. So you need to speak to a lawyer about the steps you should take to ensure that the loans you’ve made don’t fall into this category (or about the adjustments you need to make to your will if they already have).

We realize your three children know about the loans, and we don’t doubt they’re all honorable. Still, you owe it to the child who did not borrow money from you to be certain that there is no way his or her siblings can do anything but the right thing when you die, and that’s to repay their loans in full.

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| King Features Syndicate