Dear Jeanne and Leonard: An old friend emailed recently to say he was coming to town on business and to suggest that we meet for dinner one night, which I was happy to do. “Mark” said he wanted to try this famous local restaurant, a place much too expensive for my budget. However, since Mark is an executive with a Fortune 500 company, I agreed to go there, assuming he’d put the dinner on his expense account. But he didn’t. When the check came, he put half on his credit card, and I got stuck paying the other $85. I was shocked. If I was going to have to pay, shouldn’t he at least have warned me?
Dear Brian: Did you warn him that you weren’t expecting to pay?
Look, if Mark invited you out to dinner, he should have paid for it. But proposing a get-together is not the same as issuing an invitation, and we assume that had an invitation been extended, you’d have said so. Otherwise, though, why shouldn’t you pick up your half of the tab? Why should the stockholders of the company where Mark works pay for your dinner?
To be sure, your friend should have asked if there was another place you preferred when he put forward such a pricey restaurant. But since he didn’t, it was up to you to suggest a place within your budget, not take for granted that someone else would be picking up your tab.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I was very close to my grandfather. He was the first person I told when I learned I was pregnant (I was single), and he was always supportive. Though Grandpa died a few years ago, only recently did I learn what happened to his money. Turns out my mother paid an attorney to draw up a trust for Grandpa, a trust that allows Mom to live off the income from his estate, then gives the principal to my sisters when she dies. When I asked her why I was excluded, Mom claimed Grandpa wanted it that way because he disapproved of my having a child out of wedlock. But I know Grandpa loved me more than that, and ultimately Mom admitted she’d tricked him into signing the trust. She said she did it because I’d been such a disappointment to her.
My sisters know that Mom tricked Grandpa, but they refuse to confront her or even to say that I should get a share of his money. I consulted a lawyer, but he says there’s a statute of limitations that prevents me from challenging the trust in court. My mother wants me to ignore what she did, and my sisters say I should forgive her and move on. What do you think I should I do? They all say I need to get over this, but I can’t.
– Marguerite, Greater Philadelphia Area
Dear Marguerite: How confident are you in that lawyer? Because if we were in your shoes, we’d get a second opinion, just to be certain there’s absolutely nothing we could do.
Aside from that, consider taking a few months off from your family to see if you can get over – or even want to get over – what your mother has done and what your sisters are now doing (urging you to forgive and forget when they should be taking your side is shameful).
When a family unites in telling a relative whom they’ve seriously mistreated that the real problem is their victim’s inability to forgive and move on, sometimes the best plan is to move on, all right – move on by having nothing to do with these people.
Only you, however, can decide if you’d be happier with your family out of your life, or if it’s worth suppressing your anger in order to keep these relationships. Take your time, and good luck with your decision.
Please email your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.