Dear Jeanne & Leonard: Years ago my mother bought the vacant lot next to my vacation cabin, thinking she might build a place of her own there.
While she never did, she always said she planned to give me the property one day, and recently she did just that.
What bothers me, though, is that at the same time she gave me the lot, she gave my brother a cash gift equal to the lot’s appraised value ($22,000). Frankly, I’d rather have gotten cash as well. But more importantly, I don’t see why she gave my brother anything, since he had nothing to do with Mom’s lot or mine; she’d always intended to give it to me (and only me).
What do you think I should say to my mother?
– Rusty, Pennsylvania
Dear Rusty: Nothing – unless you need to hear, straight from the horse’s mouth, that your mother loves you and your brother equally and doesn’t want to favor one of you over the other.
Look, whatever your mother may have intended when she bought the property next to yours, she obviously never promised to one day give it to you and not give your brother something of comparable value.
So don’t go looking for trouble. Your mother has been very generous.
But she’s unlikely to feel the urge to give you another five-digit gift if you reveal to her how ungrateful you are for this one and how resentful you are of her generosity to your sibling.
Dear Jeanne & Leonard: Please settle an argument I’m having with a friend. When my parents invited “Ashley” and me to dinner at their house, Ashley volunteered to drive, which she did.
After dinner, as she was backing down the driveway, her car grazed my parents’ hedge, and somehow the contact broke a side window. I think I should pay to replace it since, one, the only reason Ashley was parked in my parents’ driveway was because of me; two, that driveway is a little tricky; and three, it’s my parents’ hedge that damaged her car.
But Ashley won’t let me pay, and she’s also refused to let me split the cost with her. Please tell me she’s wrong.
– Amelia, Arkansas
Dear Amelia: Wow, that’s one tough hedge.
But to answer your question: As the driver of the car, Ashley is ultimately responsible for the damage done to it.
Presumably, had she backed out more carefully, her car would have exited your parents’ driveway unscathed (we’re assuming it’s not a routine occurrence for guests who park there to incur hundreds of dollars’ worth of damage).
Even so, you’re right to want to help her pay to replace the car window.
As you say, it’d still be intact if your friend hadn’t done you the favor of driving to your parents’.
If she won’t relent and accept your money, try to find another way to defray the cost of her new window ... just not with free meals at your parents’ home.
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