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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

As friend give him benefit of the doubt

Kathy Mitchell Marcy Sugar Creators Syndicate

Dear Annie: A few days ago, my husband, who had been running an errand, walked into our house and asked if I had given our neighbor permission to use our water. I said, “No,” and went to see what was going on. Our neighbor had attached his hose to our faucet on the side of our house and was using it to fill his pool.

My husband immediately asked our neighbor for an explanation. Our neighbor said that it was an emergency and he needed to fill his pool quickly before it became damaged. He was using his own water, too.

Our neighbor said he assumed no one was home because he didn’t see our car in the driveway. He never made an attempt to knock on the door, ring the bell or phone us. Instead, he figured when we saw his hose connected to our faucet, we would question him about it. He offered to pay for the water.

I am upset that he didn’t make a greater attempt to ask our permission or notify us. What if we never noticed the hose? How do I know he would have paid for it if we didn’t catch him? I guess I expected a little more from someone who is a friend, and whose kids play with ours. How should I handle this? – Surprised

Dear Surprised: Handle it as if you are fond of your neighbor and have no reason to think he’s lying. Yes, he should have made a greater effort to get your permission, but if it truly was an emergency, it’s understandable that he would assume his good friends would say it’s OK, which indeed, you would have. Since he wasn’t being secretive and offered to pay for the water, we say let it go.

Dear Annie: My parents are both 85 and not in the best of health. Their assets amount to a considerable and complicated sum of cash, stocks, mutual funds and properties. Everything is in Dad’s name.

The problem is we cannot convince my obstinate father to make some provision for my mother or anyone else in case of his death. A living trust, or even just a simple will, could prevent a lot of headaches, red tape and probate costs as well as ensure that my sister-in-law receives the title to the house that he owns, and in which she is currently living. (My brother is deceased.)

I have tried to explain that a trust is the best way to make provisions, for both his care and Mom’s, as they get older. Despite pleadings from my mother and from us, Dad insists he “has a plan” and is going to “take it with him.” He refuses to talk about it or discuss his options with an attorney.

We cannot understand this. What can we do? – Cooling Heels

Dear Cooling: According to our legal experts, if Dad is mentally competent (and he might not be), no one can force him to do anything about this. If he drops dead without a will while married to Mom, she will still receive a substantial portion of his estate and so will Dad’s descendants (under your state’s intestacy laws), but the cost of administering the estate will burn up a lot of Dad’s hard- earned money.

Make it clear to Dad that his failure to take action will result in lawyers and court-appointed administrators taking a big chunk of what he’s worked so hard for. If he still doesn’t care, there is nothing that can be done.

Dear Annie: I’m writing regarding the letter from Bobbe Stuvengen, at the American Legion in Orfordville, Wis., about military honors at funerals.

The honor of a 21-gun salute is NOT restricted to high-echelon persons, as the writer suggested, but is available to all eligible military veterans. – Harold B. Hanig, Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force, Retired

Dear Lt. Col.: Thank you for clearing that up. We’re certain all spouses and children of veterans will appreciate the information.