Dear Annie: When my mother went into an assisted-living home, she added my sister’s name to some of her accounts so sis could help pay her bills. When Mom died, my sister automatically got whatever was left in those accounts. Mom’s will says the estate should be divided equally between us, but the money in those joint accounts is not part of the estate.
While my sister has acknowledged that Mom did not intend for her to have so much money, she still doesn’t want to part with it. She offered to pay me back in installments throughout several years, but I refused. In our last communication, she said she will keep my money until I “come to my senses.”
Georgia law has a provision under which she could place all the money from the joint accounts into the estate so it could be divided equally, but she won’t do this. Nor will she respond to my lawyer’s request for mediation. I cannot afford the type of lawsuit that might obtain justice for me.
I needed this money for security in retirement. My sister is married to a wealthy man. I also learned I had breast cancer while my sister was laying out all these controlling parameters. It made no difference to her. She does this only to control me. I wake up each morning upset. How can I get past it?
— Betrayed and Strung Along in Georgia
Dear Georgia: Your sister became the sole owner of the bank account when Mom died. In order to get your share, you will have to file a lawsuit asking a judge to rule that the money was put into a joint account solely for “convenience,” and that it was not Mom’s intent for either of you to have 100 percent of it. Talk to your lawyer about whether or not this is cost effective if you win. Otherwise, you can swallow your pride and let your sister pay you in installments, if she stillis willing, or ignore the money entirely and get some counseling so you stop waking up miserable.
Dear Annie: I’m a woman of average height and always have dated men who are taller than me. It seems appropriately masculine for the guy to be taller. I feel awkward and uncomfortable being escorted by a man who is shorter than I am.
Here is the problem. I’ve been friends with “Phil” for a long time, and the more we hang out the more I like him. But he is too short for me. Every time he tries to kiss me, I back away. I just can’t seem to overlook his height.
Am I wrong to feel this way? Should I tell him it’s his height that bothers me? How do I do that?
— In Need of Altitude
Dear Altitude: It’s a shame you cannot get past your preconceived notions of what is masculine, because it sounds as if you are missing out on a good match. You aren’t attracted to Phil and need to let him know so he can find someone who isn’t as hung up on appearances. Tell him you enjoy his friendship, but unfortunately, there’s no chemistry on your end, sorry.
Dear Annie: I read your advice to “Married and Alone,” who is depressed because she isn’t getting the attention she needs from her husband. I agree that she should find other activities that fulfill her, but was outraged when you said, “and ask Hubby to baby-sit.”
When it is your child, it is not called baby-sitting. It is called parenting. She should not have to ask permission. Coordinate, yes. Permission, no.
— A Mom in Murrieta
Dear Mom: Please don’t get too caught up in giving words more meaning than intended. This is unrelated to “permission.” It has to do with showing civility to one’s spouse by phrasing your words to sound like a request instead of issuing a demand.