DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, my adult niece, with whom I am very close, found herself in some legal difficulties and needed an attorney. At the time, due to some medical issues, she wasn't working and could not afford the attorney's retainer, so I offered to lend her the money. I told her she could repay me once she began working again.
Nine months later she sent me a check for $500 and, two months after that, another one for $500. The retainer was $2,600. My niece has been steadily employed for the last two years, yet I have received no further payment. I regret that I didn't set up a formal repayment plan, but I never dreamed she'd default on the loan.
Her mother told me she is saving up to buy a house and, apparently, she has money to spend on friends and others. I never told her parents that I loaned her the money, and I have no idea if she ever did, although I assume she hasn't. I'm torn between approaching my niece to remind her that the loan has not yet been repaid and risk damaging the relationship we have, or suck it up and accept that I'll never see the money.
Because of the pandemic, my husband has been out of work for many months. While we are not desperate, the money she owes me could be put to good use. Please advise. -- GOOD DEED IN THE MIDWEST
DEAR GOOD DEED: Meet with or contact your niece to ask her for the money she still owes you and, when you do, explain that your husband hasn't worked in many months and you need it. Agree upon a repayment plan. However, if she reneges again, DO discuss it with her parents. Perhaps they can "encourage" their daughter to do the right thing. There must be a reason they didn't front her the money for her legal problem. Let's hope it wasn't because she stiffed them, too.