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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My brother is a lifelong drug addict who has spent the last two decades in and out of jail. He rarely works and has no permanent residence, finding shelter instead with various friends, girlfriends and sometimes sleeping in his broken-down vehicle. When he calls me, it's always with some creative story and a request to send him money. The money I have sent over the years has gone to pay for his new drug fix, not to resolve whatever problem his sob story was about.

Recently, our grandmother died and she left each of us some money. As her executor, I am responsible for making sure my brother gets his share. While I want him to benefit from this modest inheritance, I'm afraid he will use it to buy drugs -- possibly enough drugs to harm himself, if unintentionally. Obviously, this is not what our grandmother would have wanted. How can I make sure this money goes to help, and not further enable, my drug-addicted sibling? -- CONFLICTED SIS IN MARYLAND

DEAR CONFLICTED: Consult an attorney, preferably one who has experience with wills and trusts, and see if some arrangement can be made that ensures your brother has a roof over his head and won't starve. It may be possible that something can be worked out so his necessities would be paid for him, without his actually getting his hands on the money.

DEAR ABBY: I have been left confused and bitter over the loss of my best friend, "Sally." I expected to go to her children's weddings and be there for the birth of her grandchildren.

Sally had an affair, which I knew about. When her husband, "John," found out, he called me asking why I didn't tell him. After that horrible phone call, during which I lied to protect Sally, I never heard from them again.

Had I known this would happen I would have told John the truth. Instead of leaving her husband, Sally gave up her friendship with me. What did I do wrong? Should I be punished for listening to her? What would you advise your readers to do when someone starts telling them about an affair they're having? -- THROWN UNDER THE BUS, BELLEVUE, WASH.

DEAR UNDER THE BUS: What you did "wrong" was allow yourself to be dragged into that mess as a co-conspirator. Silence implies agreement. Once John realized you knew all about her affair and lied, you became as guilty in his eyes as Sally and her lover. My advice to readers about what to do when someone starts telling them about an affair? Stay out of the line of fire by telling the person you don't want to hear it.

DEAR ABBY: Like many parents, my husband and I would like our three children to read more. And they, like many children, would prefer to watch more television. We arrived at a compromise, and I would like to share it with your readers.

Many television shows are also available with closed captioning. For those who don't know what closed captioning is -- it is a service available on most TVs that shows what is being broadcast via audio. We mute the television and have the children read the words instead of listening. It works great! Their reading skills have soared, and I have noticed they are now reading more books than they used to. In addition, I really enjoy the quiet time while we're watching the TV.

Please pass this strategy on. Some of our friends are also doing it and feel it has helped their children, too. -- PROUD PARENTS

DEAR PROUD PARENTS: I'm pleased to spread the word. Closed captioning, which was originally intended for use by people with hearing disabilities, can also be very helpful for individuals who are learning English as a second language.

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)