Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I’d like to kill my husband, but he’s already dead. He always assured me that I’d be taken care of if something happened to him. Well, something did happen to him – a heart attack – and in his will, he left everything to me.
But the bulk of his money was in his IRA, and it turns out he never got around to removing his first wife as his beneficiary and naming me. As a result, the woman he detested – the woman who left him for her boss – is about to receive $200,000 that should be mine. Is there anything I can do?
– Roseanne, Texas
Dear Roseanne: What you can do is go to the cemetery, dig up your husband and shoot him a few times. You can’t be prosecuted for killing someone who’s already dead, and it might make you feel better. Besides, he deserves it.
Seriously, it doesn’t matter whom your husband wanted to be the beneficiary of his IRA, only whom he named. Sorry, but those are the rules. All you can do at this juncture is appeal to your husband’s former wife’s sense of decency and ask her to share her windfall. But from what you say, we’re guessing decency isn’t her strong suit.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: Please settle an argument. My friend says that if you go to a multiplex and hate the movie you bought a ticket for, it’s OK to change screens and see another movie as long as you haven’t watched too much of the first one. I say that if you change screens, you need to buy popcorn or something to compensate the theater. Who’s right?
– Logan, New York
Dear Logan: You’re both wrong. Almost all the money you pay for a movie ticket goes to the film’s distributor, which in turn shares it with the producer. Where the multiplex makes money is on refreshments, not ticket sales. This means that when you walk into that second film without buying a ticket, you’re cheating the people who made and distributed it, not the theater.
So the next time you find yourself at a movie you hate, here’s what to do: Find the theater manager, tell him or her how you feel, and ask for a refund so you can buy a ticket to a different show. But you need to speak up within five or 10 minutes of the start of the movie, and you can’t do this very often. After all, multiplexes are for viewing movies, not sampling them.
Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My mother-in-law left her house – her only possession of value – to her four daughters. Before she died, she added a handwritten note to her will stating that any children who were destitute could live in the home. So now my wife’s sisters are living there for free while expecting my wife to pay a quarter of the expenses. And get this: One sister is a millionaire; one is a retired civil servant with a fat pension; and one inherited money, which she promptly gave away. My wife and I are sick of supporting these freeloaders. What do you suggest?
– M.K., Los Angeles
Dear M.K.: Sick of supporting them? Is that all? Aren’t you and your wife just a little annoyed that your sisters-in-law have, in effect, appropriated her inheritance?
Look, you can try talking to these women and explaining why what they’re doing is wrong. But people with their kind of chutzpah rarely care. To put an end to the freeloading – to get them to either pay rent or move out – you’ll probably need to hire an attorney.
We know, no one wants to sic a lawyer on a relative. But with people as brazen as your sisters-in-law, you’re not going to get them out of the house by expressing your outrage in an email and threatening to boycott Thanksgiving dinner.
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