Dear Jeanne and Leonard: When our neighbor’s son “Andy” got married last year, we gave him and his bride a nice gift. Well, the ink was barely dry on their thank-you notes when the couple split up. Not that Andy stayed single for long. He’s now engaged again, and we’re invited to this wedding as well. Seriously, do we have to buy this kid another wedding present when he’s getting married for the second time in 10 months?
– Feeling Cranky, New England
Dear F.C.: We don’t blame you for feeling cranky. But just because Andy’s first marriage was shorter than a season of “Mad Men” doesn’t mean the second Mrs. Andy deserves to have her nuptials slighted. Plus, you probably don’t want to signal to your neighbors that you no longer take their son’s marriages seriously. So for their sake and the bride’s, give the couple a gift.
But take your time. Etiquette allows you a year to send your present, and rest assured: You won’t be the only folks who wait 11 months to see if these vows take.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: At my neighbor “Ann’s” funeral, her husband took me aside and asked me to witness her cousin’s signature on a document. “Sam” said it was something “Allen” had signed shortly before Ann died, something important regarding property that Ann and Allen had inherited from their grandmother. While I hadn’t seen Allen sign the document, I didn’t feel I could say “no” at the funeral, so I signed what Sam handed me. Later, I realized I hadn’t even read it. What should I do? My husband says to forget about it, but I’m worried.
Dear Beth: You’re right to worry. What if there’s a dispute between Sam and Allen over that property? What if they end up in court, and Allen says he never signed the document? That’s trouble you don’t need and Allen doesn’t deserve.
So, consider contacting Allen and asking him to confirm in writing that he signed the document Sam handed you. If he did sign it, he should thank you for witnessing his signature and happily write the letter. If he didn’t sign it, he’ll appreciate the heads-up.
Of course Sam won’t like being exposed, but so what? Your neighbor had no business pressuring you to falsely attest to the signature’s authenticity. And you were wrong to let him. All you can do now is make certain you aren’t complicit in the perpetration of a fraud.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My girlfriend “Marnie” and I are breaking up, so we’re selling our condo and splitting the proceeds. When we bought the place, we each put up half of the $18,000 down payment. I sold stock options to come up with my share, and Marnie got $9,000 from her parents. There was no formal agreement about their money, and I assumed it was a gift to Marnie. But now her mother says it was a loan to us as a couple, and she wants her $9,000 back. Do I really owe her anything?
– Blindsided, Toronto
Dear Blindsided: For it to have been a loan to you, Marnie or her parents had to tell you it was a loan before they put up the money. So, did they? Without a written agreement, all you can do is honestly try to recall whether – before Marnie’s parents wrote the check – either they or Marnie told you they expected you to repay them. If they did, you owe her parents $4,500 (and so does Marnie). But if they didn’t, and you’re sure they didn’t, you’re under no obligation to pay.
P.S.: If you decide to pay her parents $4,500, this will mean that you contributed $13,500 toward the down payment on the condo, while Marnie contributed $4,500. This imbalance shouldn’t be forgotten when you and Marnie go to divide the proceeds of the sale.
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