Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My 80-year-old mother refuses to hire someone to clean her house, even though she could easily afford to. She doesn’t like the idea of a stranger in the house, and, frankly, she can be pretty cheap. So every other Saturday, I clean for her. The thing is, I work full time, plus I have my own home to look after. I’d like to tell Mom that I can no longer clean for her, but I know she’ll just threaten to do the job herself – and, at her age, she’s not really up to it. By the way, Mom’s not sick or senile or anything. She’s just stubborn. What should I do?
Dear S.V.: Move.
Just kidding. What you should do is explain to your mother that you can no longer clean her house. Then don’t blink when she pretends the only alternative to your doing the cleaning is her doing it. Instead, keep sending over house cleaners you’ve vetted until your mother understands that hiring one of them is her only real option.
And don’t feel bad about getting tough. We know, your mother’s an old lady. But while being 80 entitles her to special consideration, it doesn’t give her a pass on treating you like that.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: Our problem is an unwelcome wedding guest. For financial reasons, “Justin” and I have invited very few people to our wedding. But when the news that we were getting married appeared in our church bulletin, an old friend emailed saying he and his wife hadn’t received their invitation yet and asking for details about the reception. What should we do? We really can’t afford to pay for this couple’s dinner, plus squeezing two more into the small event space we’ve rented would be nearly impossible. Still, Justin and I don’t want to hurt our friends’ feelings.
– Brittany, Albany
Dear Brittany: So how many of your Facebook friends think they’re invited?
Seriously, just tell this couple the truth, ask for their understanding, and make a date to have them over for dinner sometime after the wedding. They’re your friends. They’ll understand.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My twin brother and I were very close. All our lives, we had an understanding that if one of us died, he’d leave everything to the other twin. But “Connor” died unexpectedly, so he didn’t have a will. What he did have, though, was a draft of his will in his overnight bag, a draft that left the $100,000 he was worth to me. Instead, though, all his money wound up going to our widowed mother, who agreed that I should get his $100,000 when she died. Now Mom has died, and she didn’t have a will either. Shouldn’t I get the $100,000, while the rest of Mom’s estate (roughly $300,000) is divided evenly among my older brothers and me?
– Vince, Ontario
Dear Vince: What do the people in your family have against wills?
When someone dies without one, rules established by the government determine who gets that person’s money. That’s why your mother inherited Connor’s $100,000. And now that your mother has died without a will, government rules also will determine where her money goes. Since she had no husband, they probably call for her children – you and your brothers – to receive equal shares of her estate.
This leaves you with two options: One, try to persuade your brothers to give you some of the money they inherit from your mother.
Or, two, show a lawyer the document your twin had in his overnight bag and ask whether, at this late date, there are steps you can take to claim Connor’s $100,000.
We wish you luck … and fear you’ll need a lot of it.
Please email your questions about money and relationships to Questions@MoneyManners.net.