Dear Jeanne and Leonard: In the Hispanic community, couples getting married often ask several close friends to be their “godfathers.” Each godfather then pays for a major wedding expense, such as the reception hall or the band. I’ve been a godfather for several couples, and it has been expensive, really expensive. Now, another friend – a guy who’s marrying his longtime boyfriend – has asked me to be his godfather. I want to say “no” because I just don’t have the money. But I feel bad about doing so, because many in my community disapprove of gay marriage, and I’m afraid my friend doesn’t have a lot of other people he can ask to be a godfather. What should I do?
– Rafael, San Francisco Bay
Dear Rafael: Relax. This is a wedding your buddy is “friendsourcing,” not a kidney transplant. And as unromantic as it may sound, weddings can always be scaled down, or even postponed. So tell your friend what you’ve told us, and don’t feel guilty when you do. This has nothing to do with his sexual orientation. The scarcity of alternative godfathers notwithstanding, you shouldn’t be going into debt to pay for the band at anyone’s wedding.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My father has owned a vacation property in northern Michigan for many years. Now that Dad’s getting older, he’s considering signing the property over to my brother and me. I love this place and have spent lots of time and money helping Dad maintain it.
I also love my brother. But he’s perennially short on funds and time, and I know I’ll wind up paying all the bills and doing all the work. I’d be happy to buy my brother out, but he loves the cottage, too, and he won’t want to sell.
I’d also be happy to have him buy me out, but he’ll never have the money to pay me.
Is there a way to set things up so that if we own the property together, my brother will be forced to carry his weight, financially and otherwise?
– J.V., Michigan
Dear J.V.: You probably can arrange to have your brother’s obligations spelled out in a contract, but so what? The contract won’t do you any good unless you would be willing to take your brother to court if he fails to live up to his end of the agreement.
So, since your father still owns the property, start by discussing your concerns with him (he’s unlikely to be surprised). Specifically, ask him, in deeding the property to the two of you, to put in a provision that allows either of you to buy out the other one and that requires that the cottage be sold if you can’t arrive at a deal. That way, you can buy the property on the open market if your brother won’t agree to sell you his share. Or, of course, you can sell out.
And cheer up. Your father is trying to give you a gift, not a burden. He should be happy to accommodate you.
Please email your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.