KATHY MITCHELL AND MARCY SUGAR \ Annie's Mailbox Brother has been misusing mother's finances
Dear Annie: When my father passed away several years ago, Mom needed help with her finances, so my brother, "Hugh," stepped in to give her a hand. The problem was that he started taking money out of Mom's bank accounts for his own use. When Mom developed Alzheimer's, Hugh ran her accounts into the red.
We did not know any of this was going on until Mom came to live with me briefly, and I asked the bank to send statements and copies of checks. I discovered over $200,000 of Mom's money had been converted into a house, cars, trips and gifts for Hugh and his girlfriend. When I confronted him, he stormed out of the house.
Mom moved into an assisted-living facility last year. Hugh then sold her house and put the money in a brand-new trust in his name. Mom's living arrangements are covered by insurance and her Social Security check. Her other checks and dividends are sent to Hugh's address, and if he cashes and spends them, there is no way for us to know, since everything is now in his name.
The misuse continues, and my other siblings and I do not know what to do about it. We don't want to alienate Hugh. Even though my father set up a trust for Mom, who knows if anything will be left by the time Hugh is finished with it? Do you have any advice? Chicago Family
Dear Chicago: You need the help of a good attorney. Since your mother is still living, you should ask about having a court-supervised guardian/conservator appointed for her. That person will have the authority to check into Mom's financial situation. Your family attorney can refer you to the proper legal specialist, or you can contact your state bar association. Good luck.
Dear Annie: I have been dating a man in the radio industry for the last couple of months. Unfortunately, he often uses poor grammar. I am wondering if I should correct him. I believe he might sound more professional if he polished up on his speech. I also am concerned that when he sends audition tapes to other companies, his poor grammar may hurt his chances of getting a better job.
I don't want to make him uncomfortable by correcting him all the time, so I am not sure how to go about this. Small-Town Wisconsin Girl
Dear Wisconsin: There are professional voice trainers who work with those in TV and radio to help correct grammar and pronunciation, tone down local accents and smooth out the rough edges. Do some research, and then suggest to your boyfriend that he could benefit from having an expert critique his audio tapes.
Dear Annie: I am getting married in less than a month and asked "Gina" to be a bridesmaid. She is a good friend, but she's a flake. Now I'm afraid she will forget to come to the wedding, or show up late and in the wrong clothes.
Gina makes promises and forgets to keep them. She never bothers to call and explain. My fiance and I made plans with her several times to meet the other attendants, but she didn't show up. She recently said she was coming to try on her bridesmaid's dress, but the shop said she didn't come by, and I still don't know why.
Is there any way I can politely and tactfully ask her to bow out of the wedding? I'd like to salvage the friendship, but it will not crush me to lose it. Bruised Bride
Dear Bride: Call Gina and say, "I can see that the responsibility of being a bridesmaid is too much for you, so I've decided to let you off the hook." Tell her you appreciate her friendship, and if possible, give her another, less crucial, role at the wedding.