A softy or a sucker?

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane Dear An­nie

DEAR AN­NIE >> One of my young rel­a­tives came to me when she was thrown out of her house at the age of 23 by her par­ents for “no rea­son,” she claimed. I agreed to cosign her lease so she could get an apart­ment, and I also agreed to pay her rent un­til she could find a good job. Two years later, she hadn’t found a job, and I was still pay­ing for her apart­ment. I in­formed her I ex­pected her to start con­tribut­ing a small amount for rent. She be­came an­gry and stopped re­turn­ing my calls. Then she van­ished. Her friends told me she was now liv­ing with some guy out of state. The man­ager of her apart­ment con­tacted me and said I still owed rent for the next 10 months, as I was the cosigner, un­less I could find some­one to take over the lease.

My ques­tion is: What should be my re­ac­tion to this level of dis­hon­esty? Should I try to find her and take her to court or just for­get the $18,000 dol­lars I’ve spent along with the $7,000 more I still owe? Is this cause for some kind of ret­ri­bu­tion? Disown her? Upon my death, she was to get my $200,000 house, and now I don’t be­lieve she de­serves any­thing. Is it rea­son­able to ex­pect a 26-year-old to be re­spon­si­ble?

Just as an ad­den­dum, my nephew did some­thing sim­i­lar years ago, and she knew all about it and how it had up­set me. Did she fig­ure I was a soft touch? I wrote my nephew out of my will. Doesn’t she de­serve the same fate?

— Fi­nan­cially Abused Fa­ther Fig­ure

DEAR FI­NAN­CIALLY ABUSED >> In a word, yes. Yes, there’s a good chance that she saw how her brother took ad­van­tage of you and de­cided that she could do the same. And yes, I think you should write her out of your will. There are many more de­serv­ing peo­ple than her.

As for re­coup­ing your ex­penses from the apart­ment, your course is less clear. As credit ex­pert La­Toya Irby wrote for The Bal­ance: “Ei­ther the lender or a debt col­lec­tion agency ... can file a law­suit against you for any un­paid part of the debt, even if they don’t sue the per­son you co-signed for.” Your best op­tion might be to look for some­one who can sub­let her apart­ment for the du­ra­tion of the lease, if the lease per­mits sub­let­ting. If the lease does not per­mit sub­let­ting, per­haps you can work out an agree­ment with the land­lord to do so, given the cir­cum­stances.

It’s al­ways worth con­sult­ing with an at­tor­ney and a fi­nan­cial ad­viser on mat­ters this se­ri­ous, so I en­cour­age you to do so.

DEAR AN­NIE >> I read your re­cent col­umn re­gard­ing the cou­ple that gives so much to family and friends, yet get lit­tle in re­turn (“Feel­ing Used”). I thought your re­ply was spot on from a prac­ti­cal per­spec­tive.

Ad­di­tion­ally, “Feel­ing Used” men­tioned the theme of the pas­tor’s homily be­ing “as you give to oth­ers, so you will be re­warded.” I think per­haps what they missed in the pas­tor’s homily was “in giv­ing to oth­ers, they are serv­ing the Lord and will be re­warded by Him” (Colos­sians 3:23-24). In other words, their gen­eros­ity will not nec­es­sar­ily be re­cip­ro­cated by those to whom they give, al­though I think that’s what they’re look­ing for by way of at least a lit­tle ap­pre­ci­a­tion, which is un­der­stand­able.

— Mike

DEAR MIKE >> What­ever job you have, I hope you con­tinue to keep find­ing time to share your in­sight­ful thoughts with the world. Thanks for writ­ing.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, family and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and e-book. Visit http://www. cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected]­ators.com.

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