Life Advice



Don't Forget About Your Finances

Annie Lane on

Dear Annie: My sister and I have an older brother. We had a falling out with him several years ago and have not spoken to him or his wife since.

My sister and brother both live within five miles of our mother. Our mom was not part of the falling out. She was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago and lost her driving privileges over a year ago.

Our brother rarely calls our mom or offers to give her rides, and he never stops by to check on her. When she calls him for help, or just to chat, he acts like she is a complete inconvenience (actually, this isn't a new behavior). He's even retired!

We don't mind being the ones she calls for help and rides, but we do get angry that he won't take 20 minutes out of his week, or even his month, to see how she's doing. It would make her day to get a visit or a phone call, especially during the past 18 months.

Our question is: Are we required to let him know when Mom really starts going downhill or if something serious happens to her before then?

We're both feeling like he's lost that privilege, but it probably wouldn't matter to him anyway, considering his behavior up to this point. Also, there is no chance of a reconciliation. He and his wife are incredibly self-centered people who think they are saints. -- Simmering Sisters

Dear Simmering Sisters: I have no doubt that your brother and his wife are being selfish and think they are saints. But sometimes, when we point a finger at someone, there are three pointing back at us.

See if you and your sister have exhausted all vehicles of open dialogue and forgiveness with your brother. Remember, you only have one brother, and he is your family. With that being said, no, you are not required to tell your brother if something goes wrong with your mom -- but it is the right thing to do. She is still his mother, and if you have the heart and kindness to take care of her, then by all means, you should tell him.


Dear Annie: A dear neighbor has just lost her husband. In addition to the shock and grief that she is experiencing, she has confided in me that she has no idea of how to manage the financial aspect of her household. Her husband took care of all of that, and he is gone.

Fortunately, she has children who I believe will be helpful to her, but can you please remind everyone that household finances, including mortgage payments and taxes, are the responsibility of both members of any partnership?

In this case, my neighbor knew for quite some time that her husband was facing the end of his life, but apparently, the household finances are something that they never discussed.

Yes, it is difficult to do, but I hope that, especially in these difficult times, more couples will address the financial aspects of their lives, and if either of them has not made a will, there is no time like the present. -- Concerned in Connecticut

Dear Concerned in Connecticut: Thank you for your letter. Yes, everyone should make a will and have their finances in line, either by doing the accounting yourself, with your spouse or with professionals who have earned your trust. I hope your letter helps others who have not done so.


"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to




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