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by Abigail Van Buren

Vultures Start To Circle Even Before Mother-In-Law's Funeral

DEAR ABBY: What is it with people? My mother-in-law, "Ellen," passed away last Thursday. Even before her viewing a neighbor informed us -- through Ellen's attorney -- that Ellen had given her a wicker patio set that the neighbor hadn't taken, but had told Ellen to use as long as she wanted. Then at the church, before the funeral service, another friend told us Ellen had intended to donate some used items to a charity, implying that we are obligated to do the same.

Don't people have manners any longer? -- OFFENDED IN OHIO

DEAR OFFENDED: Your letter illustrates why it is so important for everyone to put their wishes in writing before departing. While I agree with you that the timing was insensitive, the people involved may have wanted to be sure you were aware of Ellen's intentions before you disposed of the items.

Before distributing any of your mother-in-law's effects, this is something you should first discuss with her lawyer.

Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics