DEAR BRUCE: I’ve been remarried for about two years now. My husband has a daughter in her mid-20s. At that age you would expect her to be a responsible adult. However, she’s been borrowing money from her dad since she was 17 and has never paid him back. He even had to co-sign for her when she recently bought a car. It’s hard to talk to him about it because that is his daughter, but it’s causing problems. I think he should stop bailing her out. Am I wrong? — Frustrated Step Mom, via e-mail
DEAR STEPMOM: Your husband is not doing her any favors by constantly bailing her out. However, speaking as a parent of adult children, your mind tells you the proper thing to do, but your heart does not always agree. Emotionally, that’s a tough cord to cut. This can cause a great deal of conflict, particularly in a second marriage. I wish you both well with it.
DEAR BRUCE: We have finally found a buyer for a piece of property that we are selling. We are not using a broker. The land is not located where we live, so we do not know any attorneys in that area to help with the closing. My husband wants the buyer to find a lawyer where we can both go and sign the papers. I’m reluctant to do this. Am I wrong or is there a better way to handle the closing? — Reader, via e-mail
DEAR READER: Why on Earth would your husband have the buyer choose the attorney to represent you? An attorney cannot represent the buyer AND the seller. When you are selling the property, you and your husband’s interests should be represented by an attorney who only serves you.
DEAR BRUCE: About 30 years ago my grandparents leased a vacation property. They have now signed it over to me. I paid to have their names removed and mine added. What I need to know is, am I now liable for a gift or inheritance tax? This land’s value could be between $200,000 and $300,000. I was told that it has no value until it is sold. If we sell the lot we will be liable for taxes. If it’s affordable I might just buy it myself. — R.P., Wyoming
DEAR R.P.: Since your grandparents are still alive, inheritance tax is not an issue. Inheritance tax only kicks in after death. If there is value here, you would not be liable for taxes, but your grandparents might be unless they claimed against their lifetime estate.
You should consult an accountant and have him take a look at that issue. The likelihood is that there would be some tax liability depending upon the basis that was used when the land was transferred from your grandparents to you. This is another case where representation by an appropriate attorney and an accountant would be the proverbial “a stitch in time saves nine.” I urge you to get some advice quickly. It would be in your and your relatives’ best interests.