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Advice from Dear Webby
Disappointed in Son who won't pay back Loan

Dear Webby,

My son is married and has 3 children. He and his wife both work and live a comfortable life, including family vacations, golf trips, nice cars and the works. Three years ago he borrowed $5000.00 from me. It was to be a short-term loan.

He has made no effort to repay any of it. In fact, he acts put out if I even mention it. I planned to ask him for it when he was here for Easter but I was afraid to put a damper on the short time they were here. I wonder if his wife even knows about it.

I am on a fixed income and could use the money. My friends tell me to take him to court. What do you think?

Signed: Disappointed in Son

Dear Disappointed,

Hold your horses! I think your friends have seen too many court TV shows.

It has always been my view that nothing breaks up a family more than money. Now I wonder if lawsuits should be listed first. Only go to court after you have given it much thought and all else fails.

I supsect that your son knows what strings to pull and that you will back down rather than "spoil Easter" or any other event. Make sure he knows you are serious.

Write him a business type letter stating that the loan is past due. Tell him you were very happy to help him out when he needed it and that you are glad he is doing well now.

Explain that you are on a fixed income and the money will come in handy. Tell him you hope the repayment at this time will not cause him to have to cancel any plans. He should let you know when the check is mailed so you can watch for it.

If you don't receive it in 2 weeks that you will assume it was lost and will have to contact him and (let's call his wife Mary Sue) Mary Sue to make arrangements.

If he calls and asks what you need it for you do not owe him an explanation (remember it is your money - he is the one that should be uncomfortable). Just say a variety of everyday expenses.

He might say you are disappointing the children. Tell him you would be willing to explain to them that he has grandma's money and she needs it to live on.

If he offers to make payments make sure they are substantial and time planned - not a twenty now and a fifty later.

If he does not pay I would then have one of his uncles, your pastor or a trusted friend or attorney. write him.

Let's face it unless he signed a note it is his word against yours and although a judge might be sympathetic to you,there is no proof of the loan. A law suit might cause you to lose all contact with him and your grandchildren. Only you know how much you need the money.

Needless to say never, never do that again or at least have very good paper work - even for family. It keeps everyone honest.

Borrowing money has destroyed many friendships and families. You're only the hero for a few minutes when you loan it.

As the old Yiddish proverb says, "With money in your pocket, you are wise, and you are handsome and you sing well too". And that's not all bad.

Good luck,


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