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June 2012
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Woman guilty of defrauding siblings

Staff report

Dear Annie: Four years ago, my wife, "Joann," was the executor of her mother's will. Per instructions, she divided the estate equally with her three siblings. However, a few months later, the estate received an award of $200,000 for a lawsuit her mother had filed 30 years ago. Joann and one of her siblings split the award and did not tell the other two.

Since that time, Joann and I have separated. (She was unfaithful.) What she and her sibling did was dishonest and cheated the other two, both of whom struggle financially. I am still in contact with Joann's siblings and am fond of them. But my conscience is bothering me.

If I reveal this secret, the entire family will be rocked and Joann may be charged with fraud. While we are not on good terms, I don't want to send her to prison. What do I do? - Anonymous Husband

Dear Anonymous: Joann is not likely to go to prison, but she could be sued by her siblings and held liable for this money, and such secrets have a way of coming out eventually. You would not be the one rocking the family. That responsibility falls squarely on Joann's shoulders (and the sibling who shared in the windfall) for defrauding her siblings. Tell Joann that you are planning to inform the other siblings of this money and you are giving her the opportunity to make it right before she is hauled into court. Let her know she can put whatever spin on it she wishes in order to make herself look better. We hope she has sense enough to fix this before it's too late.

Dear Annie: I am a 40-something professional. Due to illness, accidents and natural causes, I unfortunately have lost all of my family members. Sometimes, it is difficult to cope, but with the help of a wonderful fiance and a few close friends, I have found a way not to dwell on it.

My problem is, I find it difficult to listen to co-workers who do nothing but talk poorly about their relatives and constantly fight with family members over insignificant and unsubstantial things. They bicker about who hosted the last get-together or who said what on Facebook. I wish I could make them see how lucky they are to have family and to make every moment count. I want to scream that I would do anything to have one more phone call with any family member, and I'd gladly host every single celebration just to have them attend.

Is there a polite way to explain to my stubborn co-workers that you can't count on forever? - Just One More Day

Dear Just: Our deepest condolences on what must be a heartbreaking situation. It's natural for your co-workers to complain about those with whom they must interact closely and regularly. It doesn't mean these relatives aren't loved and appreciated. You could sweetly say, "We shouldn't take our families for granted. They won't always be here." But unless you are prepared to debate the issue and disclose details about your own situation, it is unlikely you will change how they respond.

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to anniesmailbox@comcast.net, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.

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