DEAR ABBY: The letter about the ex-wife who removed property from the home of her former mother-in-law on the day of the woman's funeral prompts this letter. You were right when you advised that what the woman did qualifies as criminal activity. Entering a dwelling in order to remove property not your own is a felony called burglary.
I would not merely call my lawyer; I would immediately notify the police before the ex-wife disposes of the property.
Having knowledge of a crime and failing to report that crime is also a violation in some jurisdictions. The irony here is that the son of the deceased may be adding to the offense by failing to notify the police.
Also, the executor of the estate has an additional duty, enforced by the probate court, to secure and properly dispose of the deceased's assets. Failing to do so is also an offense.
You knew all of this, I'm sure. I am a retired law enforcement officer, but please just sign me ... NOT A LAWYER IN NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEAR NOT: I was not aware of much of the information in your letter, and I'm sure it will be of interest to many people.
I received another comment about that letter from an attorney in Louisiana, who informed me that asking one's lawyer to write a letter demanding the property be returned, and threatening to call the law if it's not, could be construed as extortion or coercion. So I'm revising my answer: Waste no time in informing the police about the theft.
DEAR ABBY: My wife and I have a dilemma over something that occurred at our wedding. We invited my mother's first cousin (whom I've only met twice) and his wife out of courtesy to my grandmother. (My mother is deceased.) The cousin called our home five days before the wedding and INFORMED us that he would be picking up his son from college and bringing him to the wedding, too, "since he's family and all." He said he'd be doing this because it would give the three of them time to spend together.
Given the late notice with which he called, we decided that it was simply too late to add another guest. I spoke with him the following day, and he agreed with us and said it was "no problem" to come without his son.
To our surprise, however, while dancing at our reception, my new bride and I noticed the cousin's wife and son dancing! We don't know when he arrived or if he was there for the ceremony, cocktail party and/or dinner (however, no dinner was ordered for him and no place seating reserved). They never came over to speak to us during the evening, and we decided not to address the issue on our wedding day.
Abby, we spent a year carefully planning our wedding, and as hosts, we felt it was presumptuous of them to make a decision about our guest list against our explicit request. Under the circumstances, we do not feel comfortable accepting their wedding gift. We appreciate the gift, but are too hurt by the disrespect and disregard we feel we were shown to accept it. Should we send a letter explaining our feelings and return the gift, or is there a more appropriate course of action? -- IGNORED IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
DEAR IGNORED: Although I don't blame you for being furious, to return their gift would mean the end of the relationship. Unless you're prepared for that, I wouldn't recommend it. Remember instead the happiness of the occasion, and don't dwell on the faults of these distant relatives.
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