Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My brother refuses to grow up. A few years ago, after a bankruptcy and a divorce, he moved into the casita at our retired parents’ new home in the Southwest. “Richard” spends his days swimming and working out (he doesn’t want a job), while Mom cooks for him and does his laundry. My parents seem happy with the situation, and so does Richard. Aside from the fact that, in my opinion, my brother is using our parents and throwing his life away, here’s what concerns me: Mom and Dad have now added my brother as a co-executor of their estate (before, I was their only executor). But my brother cannot be trusted, and he and I will be constantly at loggerheads if we have to work together to sort out my parents’ estate after they die. So I’m wondering: Should I ask my folks to drop Richard and me as executors and instead appoint a lawyer to handle their estate?
– Norman, Greater Portland Area, Ore.
Dear Norman: Just because you’re willing to step aside as their executor, who says your brother won’t assure your parents that he’s still happy to serve? They wouldn’t be the first elderly couple to balk at paying a lawyer as long as a perfectly good (in their minds) alternative exists, namely: a child, who doesn’t charge. And if Richard’s as untrustworthy as you think, leaving him in sole control of your parents’ estate probably would not be a good thing.
So, while there’s nothing wrong with asking your mother and father to appoint an attorney to replace you and your brother as executors, you need to consider the risk. Our advice: Don’t let your irritation with Richard and your frustration with your parents push you to take a step that could leave you feeling more of both.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I’m furious at a local restaurant, and I’m wondering if I’m nuts or they are. Here’s what happened: My wife and I ordered a bottle of wine with dinner. After we’d paid the check, I started to think we might have been overcharged for the wine. So on the way out, I looked again at the menu, and sure enough, the price of the wine we’d ordered was $5 less than the amount they’d charged us. But when I complained to the manager, she said: “Oh, that’s an old menu. The correct price is on our new menu,” which she proceeded to show me. While the manager said she was sorry we’d been given an old menu, she refused to give us the $5. I think she was totally wrong. Am I right, or does the fact that the higher price appeared on the restaurant’s new menu really justify her refusal?
– Indignant, Calif.
Dear Indignant: What’s next? The manager telling you that they’ve changed the price of the wine but haven’t printed new menus yet?
There’s only one price that matters in a restaurant, and that’s the price on the menu the customer orders from. Quoting an item at one price and charging a “corrected” higher price isn’t just sloppy; it’s dishonest. All businesses know that customers care what things cost, and the folks who run this restaurant well understand that you might have ordered a less-expensive wine if you’d known how much you’d actually be charged for the bottle you chose.
So, yes, the manager should have given you the five bucks, plus an apology, and – if she was smart – a promise that the next time you visited the restaurant, a bottle of wine would be on the house.
Please email your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.