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The love of money is the root of all evil.
December 28, 2010 12:24 PM   Subscribe

My father-in-law may have pocketed part of a gift intended for my husband and his brother. But then again, maybe not! How can I navigate this situation with maximum tact and minimal drama? And more concretely, how does one write a thank-you note that gracefully specifies the exact amount of the gift?

My husband's grandfather is fairly well-to-do, and he has traditionally given a very generous cash gift (generally $400) to each of his (birth) children and grandchildren around the holiday. Formerly, I gather that he tended to send the money in one lump sum to the parents, who then passed along the children's share to their kids; in recent years, he's just sent a check directly to each individual. This year, though, he reverted back to the single-check-to-the-parents mode, so on Christmas eve my husband and his sister each received a $400 check from their dad, on Grandfather's behalf. So far, so good.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law asked me, slightly awkwardly, how much my husband usually received from his grandfather at Christmas. Before I had a chance to answer, she went on to say that the group check from Grandpa this year had actually been for "a lot more than usual-- like, a couple of thousand dollars," and that while she'd wanted to just split the extra equally among the three gift recipients (my husband, his brother, and the parents), my Father-in-law had decided instead that they should use the excess to pay down some personal debt of their own, and just pass the standard $400 along to each of the two kids. I asked whether Grandfather had specified how he wanted the money to be distributed, and she said he hadn't. She seemed embarrassed and a little flustered, so I tried to be neutral and pleasant and changed the subject. I'm fairly sure nobody has mentioned anything about this to either my husband or his brother.

Now I'm feeling kind of odd and icky about the whole thing. Just to clarify: I'm not in any way grousing ungratefully about the amount of the gift. Grandfather is a wonderful person, and we would honestly love him equally whether he gave us a four-million-dollar gift or no gift at all for Christmas. Nor do I have any problem with the unequal distribution of the gift per se; kids are kids and grandkids are just grandkids, after all.

Assuming that Mother-in-Law was correct and Grandfather didn't specify a distribution ratio for his gift, I do think it's fairly ungenerous and unpaternal of the dad to silently skim off most of the gift for his own uses, especially given that my husband's parents live comfortably with a six-figure income while both kids are starving schoolteachers with young families to support. But while I have my own opinions about my inlaws' fiscal practices and overall altruism where money is concerned, they're in other respects lovely people, and we have a good relationship. I have no intention of bringing this up with them ever again.

My chief issue for MeFi, then, is what to do about the weird dishonest limbo surrounding the potential gap between the gift Grandfather thinks he gave and the gift we actually received. I am in charge of writing our family's thank-you notes, and what I would really like is to find a way to specify in this year's note to Grandfather exactly how much we received from him. That way, if the distribution was in accordance with his wishes, no harm is done, but if he intended things to go differently, at least he'll be aware of how things actually worked out. But it seems somehow crass to just write directly, "Thank you so much for the beautiful $400"-- in past years, I've just euphemized about "very generous gifts" and "kindness and generosity"-- and failing that, I'm not sure how else to gracefully integrate hard figures into a thank-you note.

So, questions:
1. Is there any non-crass way to specify the amount of a gift in a thank-you note?
2. Should I tell my husband about any of this? and
3. Am I a terrible, grasping, avaricious and/or meddling person for being at all concerned about this? Should I just leave the whole thing alone?
posted by yersinia to Human Relations (42 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Forget the whole thing, it is in the past. Bringing it up one way or another is going to affect family harmony in a bad way.
posted by francesca too at 12:29 PM on December 28, 2010


Leave the whole thing alone. There is no upside. The thank you note should have the usual "thank you for your generous gift" and leave it at that. You may want to tell your husband as it is an awkward secret to keep between the two of you, but you would know best.
posted by readery at 12:31 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to touch (2) and (3), but here's how I would handle (1):

"Thank you so much for the generous Christmas gift. We had hoped to {start a retirement investment, take a vacation, complete a home project, etc} and $400 is more than enough for us to {buy a long-term CD, go on a weekend trip, repaint the guest room, etc} with some left over for some holiday merry-making."

Basically, talk about how the generous gift was more than enough to do a worthwhile thing that you had wanted to do, something that your husband's grandfather would be happy you were spending the money on.
posted by jedicus at 12:31 PM on December 28, 2010 [31 favorites]


I disagree- if I were the grandfather I would want to know. I don't think it's terribly to say in the card something like, "as always, we are so grateful for your generousity. Having an extra $400 is so welcome at this time of year." Or something like that.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:34 PM on December 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


How can I navigate this situation with maximum tact and minimal drama?

By not specifying the amount of the gift. Mentioning the exact amount is tacky, and doing so will likely cause drama.
posted by xingcat at 12:34 PM on December 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you should definitely tell your husband. It's his family, and if it bothers him, he should be the one to address it. It'll just strain your relationship with your in-laws if you bring it up.

Also, your MIL didn't tell you not to mention it to your husband or your BIL, so maybe she was hoping you would and that they could go directly to their dad, leaving you and her out of the whole messy debacle.
posted by onceisnotenough at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


You absolutely need to tell your husband about this if you plan to do anything, including slipping a dollar amount into your thank you note. This is his family, and so the ultimate decision about how to handle it should be up to him. It's really, really not fair to him for you to stir up drama in his family without his permission.

Personally, I think that you should tell him what you know regardless of what you decide to do. This is clearly eating at you, and talking about it with him might help. But you definitely need to tell him if you plan to do anything other than forget about it.
posted by decathecting at 12:35 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Don't set up potential scuffle with the inlaws over a couple hundred bucks. If this isn't a matter of personal hardship, and you got the standard gift you'd usually get, just leave it alone.

In the future you know to pay close attention to money matters that involve that particular branch of the family. This year, part of your Christmas gift to your husband is letting him avoid the potential stress of this situation.
posted by hermitosis at 12:36 PM on December 28, 2010


You don't have to mention the exact amount. If he sent on a couple thousand, then referring to the gift as "a few hundred" would tip him off.
posted by cmoj at 12:37 PM on December 28, 2010


I think you're overthinking this a little bit.

1. "Thank you, Grandfather, for the four-hundred dollars! It will come in handy for the -insert reason here, extra points if it's something that's non-frivolous)- we plan to buy"

2. I would if it were me, but this thing would eat at me until I discussed it with him and asked him what he thinks we should do.

3. I don't think you're a terrible person. I think I would wait, thank the grandfather for the gift without mentioning the amount.. and in six months or so when your husband is spending time with/talking to him on the phone bring the subject up.

I think your mother-in-law feels guilty and that's why she told you in the first place.
posted by royalsong at 12:39 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


or, what jedicus said.

I would tell my husband because he's part of Team Us (and secrets like that just get ickier with keeping, and often come out later).

I don't think you're avaricious. For me, the money is only a minor part of it. It seems to me to be very peculiar behaviour, and I would be concerned about what other weirdness is going on with your father-in-law. Is he that far in debt? Does he have some mental illness thing going on? (I know that when my step-grandmother got dementia, it started with paranoia and excessive worry about ... everything, including money.) If any of this is the case, your husband should know, too. Even if he just says, "Eh... yeah, Dad pulls this kind of thing once in a while. Let it go," at least it'll be an informed decision on his part.
posted by small_ruminant at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem is that if you say something in the note -- what then? Say Grandfather reads this and is instantly peeved, calls your father in law and asks what happened, FIL gets defensive, might even accuse you and your husband of not giving him the benefit of the doubt. Plus, FIL probably figures out who might have tipped you off which leads him to MIL.

If he genuinely did something ethically iffy, for a lot of people, the first line of defense is a lot of huffing and puffing which could make for some awkward Christmases in the coming years.

As someone who just sat through a terribly awkward Christmas dinner: it is probably not worth the trade-off.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


1. "[Thanks etc.] - we bought a [$300 gift item] for the kids and took ourselves out for dinner.
2. Yes - your husband is like AskMetaFilter with specific expertise in this area.
3. Your Mother-In-Law came to you directly. It's not like you were opening someone's mail.

My gut feeling is that the Father-In-Law was out of order, but it has to be up to your husband to make the call. If my partner was in the same situation, I'd want her to tell me so I could decide whether to escalate it. It sounds a bit petty but it's MY Father and MY family and I'll smooth over the family's reaction to you telling me. I think there's a presumption of openness between spouses though - I would never expect someone to keep a secret from their partner. However, this will vary in your family situation, obviously.
posted by doublehappy at 12:40 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


...oops and agreed with the others that say regardless, you have to tell your husband. Too weird and awkward to keep to yourself.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:42 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would follow Jedicius's deviously gracious phrasing if I were to do anything at all, of course making sure that you and your spouse are on the same page about the whole issue.
posted by bluejayk at 12:43 PM on December 28, 2010


I agree 100% with A Terrible Llama. I think you need to decide what outcome you're hoping for, and then figure out the best outcome you can expect.

1) I honestly can't see any net-positive outcome to slipping the amount in the note. If your grandfather-in-law DID intend for your in-laws to end up with a bit extra, then either your note won't matter (net neutral) or he'll find it tacky (slightly-net-negative). If your GIL intended for it to be split up equally, then it will start a whole big family kerfuffle, which may result in you getting a few extra hundred bucks but also in lots of drama-rama (definitely net-negative for me but your cost-benefit analysis may be different).

2) I would absolutely tell my husband. I suspect that it's what your MIL intended all along.
posted by muddgirl at 12:48 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd do the "Thank you, Grandfather, for the four-hundred dollars! It will come in handy for the -insert reason here, extra points if it's something that's non-frivolous)- we plan to buy."

This way Grandfather knows the exact amount you received and if it's not what he intended, next year he can write separate checks.
posted by Sassyfras at 12:49 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would, with my spouse's consent, mention the amount in the thank-you, but not complain to anyone concerned or otherwise make an issue of it. If I were the grandfather in this sketch and I found out about it, I probably wouldn't do a j'accuse act with anyone, but I'd never let my son (your FIL, if I'm keeping the players straight), be the one to distribute the money again.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the best thing to do is be honest and upfront without being accusatory or making assumptions. It's silly to keep it from your husband; money affects both of you as well as your children and decisions should be made by both of you.

I would encourage your husband to discuss it before it starts to fester. What if your father-in-law changes his mind once you ask about it? What if his reasoning is sound? What if there's another problem with him that needs attention? Will you need to verify everything money-wise when his grandfather dies?

I don't think it's right to keep it from your brother-in-law either, and keeping him in the loop will prevent triangulation of communication, speculation, and gossip.
posted by the young rope-rider at 12:50 PM on December 28, 2010


So.. did your MIL indicate that her husband receive the correct amount or not? I know you changed the subject before it got that far, I'm just wondering what her end-game plan might have been??

- I understand why she fished for info from you first. I guess. But it puts you in an awkward position with your husband! Let's hope she clears this up directly with her son of her own volition.

- I agree you should not keep this secret from your husband. I have a stellar marriage, and I don't believe in that kind of misrepresentation between spouses.

- Don't involve the Grandfather.

- Do give your husband and yourself the opportunity to drop it or address it with his sibling and father by discussing your MIL's phone call with your husband. It's OK if you drop it and never mention this again, but you should decide together how to handle this now that the cat is out of the bag.

- It's likely the other sibling (or sibling's spouse?) got a call from the MIL, too. Keeping this from your husband is really not an option at this point.


Make a promise to yourself that if any of your in-laws ever comes to you in this well-meaning but misguided manner again, your standard answer is: I appreciate what you are trying to accomplish, and I strongly suggest you discuss this with Husband.


couldn't your MIL just have researched her bank accounts to see the cancelled gift checks?? I feel like she was pot-stirring here. repel this tactic with disclosure to your spouse. it's a bad habit to start shielding that kind of behavior.
posted by jbenben at 12:58 PM on December 28, 2010


"Dear Grandpa, the $400 was greatly appreciated. Thank you so much!"

If I were gramps, I would want to know.
posted by brownrd at 1:01 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Absolutely tell your husband! You're in this together. I don't really understand why your MIL brought the issue to you instead of to her son. At any right, I don't see any downside to telling your husband, except that he might be a bit peeved at his dad, and maybe rightfully so.

Next: if it's fine with your husband, go ahead and put the amount in the thank you note, along the lines of what small-ruminant suggests. I see nothing tacky about this at all. Anyway it's nowhere near as tacky as what the FIL did--I mean, if the grandfather didn't specify distribution, why on earth didn't FIL just ASK the granddad? The fact that he didn't shows he was being opportunistic at best--ungenerous and dishonest at worst.

Personally, I wouldn't see any problem with just having your husband confront his dad directly. Sure, it might be a bit ouchy. But really, what his dad did is kind of despicable, and I don't see any reason to let him get away with it. Maybe have another conversation with the MIL, though, before taking any action like this.
posted by torticat at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2010


Your mother-in-law took you into her confidence by discussing the issue with you. By going out of your way to expose the shenanigans, you would betray that trust. She would end up being caught in a terrible spot between her husand and his father.

I would simply do nothing and send the same sort of non-amount-specific thank you card that you send every year.

This is a grenade whose pin you do not want to pull.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2010


Oh my God, who mentions the amount of a gift in a thank you note? Surely that is a complete non-issue, unless the point of (weirdly) specifying the amount is a way of stirring up trouble, which I assume is not the goal here.

The gift was given to your FIL to distribute, and you are 100% stuck with the outcome of that. If you make a stink and your FIL has to write you a bigger check, this will not end well for any party. Therefore, when you write this year's thank you note, thank the grandfather for all of his years of generosity, and this year's very appreciated gift. It's non-specific but sets this year up against previous year's in a vaguely contrasty way that should gracefully cover the awkwardness of this situation - which is basically issuing a thank you for a gift not really recieved through no fault of the giver.

Since it absolutely is the thought and not the amount that is important here, I really urge you to take this approach. Say nothing to your FIL, but in the future when your grandfather's estate is being distributed, be observant and make sure distributions are actually being made according to his wishes if your FIL is the executor. People tend to show there true colors where money is involved, so I'd consider this episode a free warning.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:12 PM on December 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


1. I'd thank him for the dollar amount with an explanation of what his generosity was going to do for your family.

2. I'd tell my husband because this is his family and this is Potential Familial Red Flag Behavior.

3. You aren't, and here's why: Potential Familial Red Flag Behavior might be nothing, or it might be a signal of something that you need to prepare for, probably with the support and understanding of your spouse. Creepy Uncle Fritz who just gives you the heebie jeebies? Sure, maybe YOU'RE the psycho overprotective parent. But maybe you're not. And if there's potential there, you need to brace yourself for it. God forbid this be the opening salvo to some really uncomfortable situations with misappropriated inheritances, but it isn't outside the realm of the possible. Even just knowing that there might be a little of this going on might prime you and your husband to handle the whole situation better if it does ever grow larger in proportion. (I say this as someone who was given very generous financial gifts as a child which were used "on my behalf," and which I had no say in how they got used. Knowing that helps me set my expectations properly for the future if, for some reason, something similar or analogous should ever happen.)
posted by jph at 1:21 PM on December 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


maybe your mil was telling you in a roundabout way that they are having money problems. if your fil is making six figures, why would he need to skim off the gift in order to pay down bills? i think you need to find out if your fil still has a job or has otherwise been affected financially.
posted by elle.jeezy at 1:37 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just tell your husband and see what he thinks. Your mother-in-law was uncomfortable enough with this situation to suggest that it may be the tip of some kind of iceberg. Mentioning the amount of the gift to your grandfather seems like a bad idea to me. Unless he's a dummy, he's going to know why you did it. So you're informing on your father-in-law in a cutesy kind of way, and maybe he wasn't even skimming in the first place. (It sounds like your mother-in-law is not completely sure what the instructions were.) Better that your husband or his mother ask your father-in-law about it directly, if really you want to bring it to light.

I sympathize. It puts you in a weird position if your husband's grandfather thinks he gave you a much bigger gift than you actually got, and it would suck to be in this position year after year if this is indeed happening and it continues.
posted by BibiRose at 2:15 PM on December 28, 2010


Rugs were made to sweep this sort of shit under. Nothing of any lasting good can come from pursuing this.
posted by milarepa at 2:38 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You got your standard $400 from grandpa. If your MIL hadn't said anything, you wouldn't have thought twice about it.

The only conversation that needs to happen is your husband asking his father why his mother is even bringing this up. But in a worried about her/wondering what's going on kind of way. Because, again, you got your standard gift and you wouldn't know anything was potentially going weird if the MIL hadn't said anything.
posted by theichibun at 3:08 PM on December 28, 2010


I disagree with those who say to just move on from this as if nothing happened. It involves money, family, and estate planning, and it should be dealt with now while the stakes are low (as was suggested upthread, what if something similar plays out in a future bereavement/inheritance setting? That's true family kerfuffle, and you can possibly prevent it now by taking action).

1. Is there any non-crass way to specify the amount of a gift in a thank-you note?

Not usually, but in this case the note needs to do more than merely thank the giver. It also needs to innocuously convey a piece of information in a way that doesn't seem tattle-tale. So the traditional Emily Post rules aren't necessarily the one true way.

2. Should I tell my husband about any of this?

Without a doubt. It's his family. These are his parents and grandparents; imagine how you would want to know if the roles were reversed.

You should not feel like you are betraying a confidence by reporting your M-I-L's conversation to your husband. I agree with those who believe that this is what your M-I-L hoped for all along. Besides, to which party do you owe more loyalty: your husband, or his mother?

3. Am I a terrible, grasping, avaricious and/or meddling person for being at all concerned about this? Should I just leave the whole thing alone?

No, and no. You are concerned about this not because you are a meddler or a greedy pig... you are concerned because your M-I-L gave you a reason to be. Don't feel guilty for that. You aren't a firestarter or a troublemaker by feeling awkward about it or for taking this to your husband.

I disagree with those who've said to leave the grandfather out of it. It's his money. He deserves to have it go where he intended. He's not a doddering old fool, barely competent, who oughtn't be bothered with such petty details 'else he might grow disoriented and unwell. We can't assume that every senior citizen out there needs saving from themselves.

In fact, for all we know, there is a sum $X that Grandfather purposely wanted bestowed a certain way among family members in order to circumvent gift taxes, and in that case it does indeed matter who the recipients are. If each recipient was to receive $X/10...only one recipient has now received $X/2, and the others have received $X/20... there could easily be tax implications there.

tl;dr Your husband should be told, and your grandfather-in-law deserves to know how his money was actually distributed to his grandchildren. I would write a note and use jedicus' verbiage, thereby bypassing F-I-L and M-I-L altogether, and then let the chips fall where they may. F-I-L doesn't deserve to be upset about a note that specifies receiving $400; that is a fact, not a character assassination.

I expect you'll see that Grandfather sends his own checks in the future.
posted by pineapple at 3:13 PM on December 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


I don't understand those who say mentioning the amount is tacky. Dishonesty and an inability to be frank and truthful with family - that's tacky. Condoning potentially sneaky behaviour - that's tacky. Being a silent participant in a scheme - that's tacky.

Be honest. Several posters above have provided incredibly good and tactful thank you wording you can use. If you were an elderly man, being generous with gifts, wouldn't you want to know where it was going? If there was potential dishonesty with future gifts/inheritance/money in the family, wouldn't you like to know so you can do things like make your will watertight and ensure future gifts get to the recipients?

Yes, it may cause some family drama now, but nipping it in the bud is a better solution than any other.
posted by shazzam! at 3:30 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would you have put the dollar amount in the note if you'd never spoken to MIL? If she hadn't said anything to you, you would have assumed the standard gift was just that, standard, and conveyed your appreciation appropriately.
posted by miratime at 4:16 PM on December 28, 2010


Whenever I get a monetary gift I make sure to tell the giver what I used it for. People who give gifts like to hear what it goes toward. Doesn't this solve #1 indirectly? Do other people not do this? I always just assumed it was what you were supposed to do.
posted by monkeymadness at 4:17 PM on December 28, 2010


Arghhh. what a gross situation. my two cents (canadian cents, as you can tell from my spelling) -- you definitely have to tell your husband. and frankly, I think a note to the grandfather with a thank you for the exact amount is the thing to do the trick here -- either the grandfather intended more money to go to his grandchildren (meaning his son is sealing from both him and the grandchildren -- which i would think he'd want to know about), or the greater sum of the check was supposed to go to the father in law, and he just didn't tell his wife. no harm no foul. but family drama or no family drama, I think you should definitely tip off the grandfather as to the fact that his son is pulling a fast one. if it's true, what a scumbag! the grandfather will definitely want to know this before handing a lump check over the next year.
posted by custard heart at 4:23 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


also -- the advantage of the "thanks for the $400, grandpappy" note is it seems totally innocent and does not betray the mother-in-law, nor does it indicate you knew anything fishy was going on.
posted by custard heart at 4:25 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Minimally, you must tell your husband, just as you would expect him to keep no secrets from you.

As for Grandfather, if I were he, I would want to know.

Grandfathers know things. Perhaps Grandfather knows (and you dont) that one of the other usual beneficiaries is in particular financial straits and wanted to help them out. To avoid uneasiness for everyone, decided to give to all the same, upped, amount. By giving an increased amount to all, he helps out the one who needs the help most, while simultaneously rewarding those others for making better decisions. None feel like they received "less" and no one can claim "charity" or "favoritism". It's a very grandfatherly thing to do.
posted by sandra_s at 5:06 PM on December 28, 2010


Oh, and seconding pineapple.

There may, indeed be tax reasons that grandfather wrote the check in the way he did.
posted by sandra_s at 5:09 PM on December 28, 2010


This absolutely shouldn't be kept secret, neither from your husband, nor your grandfather. The main reason is that an old man who is giving such generous gifts is likely to have a large estate when he dies, and this sort of behaviour is a total red flag for crazy family drama when that happens.

Your grandfather may have made your father-in-law the executor of the estate, or may have written his will in such a way that your FIL is trusted to behave honourably, which you can't depend on now. Or worse: your grandfather may not have his affairs in order at all. He needs to know so that he can make sure his wishes are watertight for after his death.
posted by lollusc at 5:31 PM on December 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It could be that Grandfather knows about Dad's financial problems and had told Dad there'd be extra for him in the Christmas check. I don't think this points one way or the other re: whether to mention the amount in your thankyou note, just offering it up as a potential explanation in case you do mention it and nothing happens.
posted by lakeroon at 7:40 PM on December 28, 2010


Am I missing something here? Between the husband, his brother, and parents ($400 each, times four) would mean $1600 not including a separate $400 for the poster -- I'm not sure if she was a recipient of such amount in the past. If the check the grandfather wrote was for "several thousand", isn't the father-in-law withholding a somewhat insignificant amount?

I'm not saying he should ultimately determine who gets what ( esp. if he explicitly understands the grandfather's wishes), but I'd tell my husband and let him decide how to act. If I wasn't too concerned about the resultant fall out, I'd bring it up with the MIL again and get more info.

Money is such a weird thing, especially among family and friends. I hope it gets resolved, good luck.
posted by loquat at 12:17 AM on December 29, 2010


Unless you have reason to think that the person who tipped you off is lying, I think you should push this as far as it will go. Tactfully, but conclusively and with determination, confirm the value. I would call grandpa on the phone to thank him personally and describe the 400$ worth of stuff I bought. If grandpa still has a notion of the cost of things, this will be solved real quick.

The principle is that I hate assholes, and I hate even more assholes that exploit the social contract like this. What I love is to watch assholes squirm, because if this is right this one will squirm hard and reveal to everyone the extent of his assholery. Don't take shit from bullies.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 3:43 AM on December 29, 2010


If the check the grandfather wrote was for "several thousand", isn't the father-in-law withholding a somewhat insignificant amount?

She said a couple of thousand, I think meaning a couple of thousand more than usual. If it's literally "a couple," that sounds like it means he pocketed the overage of 2K-- with or without the grandfather's agreement. I'm not sure that's literally what the poster meant, though. It doesn't sound like the mother-in-law was all that clear on what happened.

It seems like a complicated situation on all kinds of levels, not least because the mother-in-law feels the need to speak with someone other than her husband about it. My mostly likely guess, filling in the blanks, is that the father-in-law is habitually a bit skeevy about this sort of thing, and it's beginning to bug his wife. He may be the type who never pays his full share of the dinner check, either. It may help to figure out what the deal is with him now, or it may not. My whole family has been plagued by quarrels and suspicions over inheritances and disbursements, often centered on years-old incidences of much the type described here. (I sat and listened to an aunt accuse her brother-in-law of diverting some money from a real-estate transaction; that same aunt admitted to doing something similar herself. In the same conversation.) I agree with posters who warn that there could be a problem when it comes to the grandfather's estate; unfortunately, it seems like people often give a lot of power to exactly the skeeviest individual in the family. Or, people tend to become this way when they get into this sort of position. Root of all evil and all that-- very apt thread title.
posted by BibiRose at 7:37 AM on December 29, 2010


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