Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I don’t trust my late ex-husband’s lawyer. In accordance with my ex’s will, his entire estate has gone into a trust, from which I receive the income. And, also in accordance with his will, the trust is being managed by his attorney. The problem is, I don’t like this man, and I don’t trust him for a minute to act in my best interests. So how do I ensure that the trust is being properly managed? Must I go to the expense of hiring my own attorney to oversee this guy? That doesn’t seem fair.

– J.H., Buffalo

Dear J.H.: Forget about fair, and focus on smart. Unless the income from that trust makes no material difference in your life, you’d be foolish not to hire an attorney of your own to keep an eye on a trustee whose ethics you have so little faith in.


Dear Jeanne and Leonard: I work in a middle-school office with five other women. One of them is also a real estate agent and is always on the phone with clients instead of doing her job in the office. What’s the right thing to do about this? Her supervisor and the principal have no idea that she spends half her time at school running her real estate business.

– J.K., Greater Kansas City Area

Dear J.K.: What’s up with your four colleagues? Why haven’t the five of you gone to your supervisor and laid out the problem?

Look, this is serious. Forget about the fact that the rest of you are stuck doing this woman’s work. If none of you cares to complain about that, fine. But what about the taxpayers, who are paying this woman’s salary while she works at another job? And what about the schoolchildren, who are getting no benefit from those dollars in the education budget that she’s pocketing while sitting at the school selling houses?

Whether you do it alone or with your colleagues, whether you do it personally or anonymously, you need to report the real estate mogul to both her supervisor and the principal of the school.

This woman is not taking advantage of just the five of you; she’s cheating everyone in the school district.


Dear Jeanne and Leonard: My parents always ask what our son would like for Christmas, and my husband and I always suggest a gift in the $50-to-$75 range, because we know that’s what they expect to spend.

This year, however, we’re thinking of telling them he’d like a Playstation 4. Here’s why: My brother “Tony” has two daughters, for whom my folks also buy $50-to-$75 presents. But Tony is the least ambitious person on earth, so he makes very little money, and my parents, who are well off, have to backstop his family financially. They often help with his mortgage; they’re always buying his daughters things like computers and bikes; and they pay for the girls to go to camp each summer. I don’t resent my parents helping out Tony’s family. But since my husband and I have never taken a dime from my folks, would it be OK to tell them that what our son wants more than anything this Christmas is a game console that costs $400? Given all they do for my nieces, don’t you think my parents could be a little extra generous with my son?

– Nicole, California

Dear Nicole: “Yes” to your second question, but “no” to the first. It wouldn’t be right for your folks to spend five to eight times more on a Christmas present for their grandson than they spend on gifts for their granddaughters. But the next time they treat your nieces to something special, it would be nice – and appropriate – for them to do something special for your son as well. You even could remind them that their grandson also enjoys treats.

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