Bill comes due on 'forgiven' loan

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Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

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DEAR AMY: Twenty-plus years ago, my older sister lent me $3,000 when I was struggling to make ends meet. I promised to repay the loan before the end of that year. The time came, and I wrote my sister a check for the full amount, but she did not cash it, saying she did not need the money and that the loan was forgiven. Fast-forward 20 years. While my sister has remained financially stable for the duration, I am now in a better place financially, due to a family member leaving me some money recently. After learning of the inheritance, my sister asked me for the money back. I can afford it and plan to repay it, but I can't get over her surprising request. Might you offer any words of wisdom for this unsettling sibling situation? --Lucky Sister

DEAR SISTER: You should gratefully and graciously write your sister a check, keeping in mind her generosity when you needed it.

I know, I know -- it's tacky to appear 20 years after the fact and basically expect repayment of a loan that was "forgiven," but, hey, you've had this money for two decades, interest-free. Your sister "forgave" this loan. Now you should forgive her this fumble.

DEAR AMY: My teenage daughter is invited to a friend's rite of passage. The hosting family is asking for a donation to their favorite charity -- and they are requesting cash or checks made out to the family for this. We feel the family has good intentions, but besides getting good "karma" for this gesture, they might also stand to benefit from a sizable tax deduction. Wouldn't it have been a nicer thing to have said, "We're collecting checks made out to such and such a charity, and here's the information"? --Gary the Giver

DEAR GARY: I agree with you -- I would not want to send a check made out to the family unless I wanted to make a donation to the family.