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Dear Webby
Sister won't pay bills

Dear Webby,

My sister, age 82, does not pay her bills on time. She has enough income but doesn't make the right decisions. What can I do to help her?

Concerned Brother

Dear Concerned,

Webby is glad that you are willing to help you sister, however pride sometimes stands in the way of accepting help. You may have to be cunning about it.

First off, has she been to a doctor lately? Is she depressed or have some form of dementia? Is she OK with other aspects of her life such as health concerns (taking proper medecine, eating right, etc.)?

Explain to her that it is costing her money on late fees and that she could lose her services like heat and electric if she does not pay on time. Remind her she could lose her savings if she gets ill and hasn't paid her medical insurance. Blame the darn computers that are so efficient that if you're only a few days late they catch it.

Tell her you know that paying bills is boring and no fun to her, but that you enjoy paper work (Webby hopes you do) and will trade some home made cookies in exchange for doing her bills. If not cookies, does she knit or do anything you can trade with?

Maybe an afternoon a month you could help her with them and she could make you a favorite dinner. In some way let her be a part, don't let it appear that you are taking over because she is incompetent.

If she does not want you to know her business (sometimes people get secretive) suggest someone (do some research into their honesty and credentials) she can hire.

She may also want to consider having utility bills and standard monthly bills taken right out of her account. Just be sure to help her monitor the accounts for mistakes and to make sure the withdrawals will be covered.

Webby is sure that you will come up with better ideas than she and your sister will be able to keep her dignity and perhaps she will even feel she is helping you by giving you something to do.

Good luck,


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