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Annie 3.19.12

Annie 3.19.12

Posted: Monday, March 19, 2012 8:00 pm

Dear Annie: Four years ago, my adult son was divorced and then lost his job. He tried selling his house, but couldn’t find a buyer. At the same time, my sister’s daughter, also recently divorced, needed a larger house and a better school system for her three teenage children.
My sister and I came up with what we thought was a win-win situation: My niece would take over my son’s house payments. We hoped she could obtain a mortgage within two years and purchase the house for the balance. My son would make no profit. The only condition was that she maintain the place. After two years, my son was still unemployed, and my niece was unable to qualify for a mortgage. So we let the arrangement continue.
We recently learned that my niece moved out without any notification or explanation. We were shocked when we saw that the house had been completely destroyed. We had the property evaluated and were told it would take $25,000 to get it back into saleable condition. With the help of relatives and contractors and more than 500 hours of free labor, the house is now in decent shape. My husband and I (both retired) invested $15,000.
I have sent emails and letters to my sister and niece, with absolutely no response. If they won’t help repay the money, at least they could offer an explanation and an apology. I finally had a lawyer contact my niece about compensation. She has a decent income and was more than capable of taking care of the house.
Our next decision is whether to file a lawsuit. I have tried to restore the family relationship, but apparently, they are not interested. What do I do? — Can’t Afford This Dilemma
Dear Dilemma: It’s disappointing that your niece cannot face up to her responsibility, and that her mother is willing to lose the relationship and be sued in order to allow her daughter to hide. We doubt that forgiving a $15,000 debt will restore your family ties. You will simply be out the money.
Please make one last attempt to resolve this before going to court. Can you see your sister in person? Ask to meet at a neutral place to discuss this before it gets completely out of hand. We hope she will agree so the two of you can express your feelings, including how sad you are, and find out whether anything can be done. An apology would go a long way.
Dear Annie: Would you please ask your readers to list a charity or medical organization in lieu of flowers in death notices? Too many people send flowers when there is a decline in giving to medical research.
At a recent visitation, there were two rooms full of flowers. Within a few hours, flowers die. Please help raise awareness that there are other significant ways to remember the deceased. — Friend of a Young Lung Cancer Victim
Dear Friend: We are all in favor of donations to charity and medical research, and we hope family members who place death notices in the newspapers and online will keep this in mind as a way of honoring the deceased. It means a great deal to these organizations to have the financial support.
Dear Annie: Thank you for printing the letter from “Saskatoon,” who asked whether it was rude to leave the TV on when one has company.
We have the same situation with a family member who leaves the TV on all day. Because of this, we have shortened our time with them. Even when we have been invited to stay only for a couple of days, this family member prefers to sit in front of the idiot box. The TV shouldn’t be one’s best friend to the exclusion of speaking to guests in your home — including family. — Not Visiting So Much Anymore
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Published in The Messenger 3.19.12

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