'My brother is trying to stiff me'
A parents' anniversary gift becomes a source of financial tension for two siblings.
NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: My brother Tom and I decided to give my parents a cruise for their 50th anniversary, and I bought the tickets. Now Tom claims we only discussed the cruise, but never agreed on it.
Moreover, he's sent our folks a plasma TV as a gift, and he refuses to pay his share of the tickets. He says I misunderstood him if I thought he was committing to the cruise. I say he's obligated to pay half the cost of the tickets. Who's right?
Answer. You must have honestly believed Tom was on board for the cruise or you wouldn't have gotten the tickets, and he must have honestly believed that he wasn't, or he wouldn't have bought the TV.
Under these circumstances, nobody's right and nobody's wrong (unless, of course, Tom has a habit of reneging on commitments, and we assume you'd have told us if that were the case).
So the first thing you and your brother should do is acknowledge that a misunderstanding has occurred and that no one is at fault. This means you can't resolve the situation by assigning blame and that you're going to have to agree on a compromise.
One option is for each of you to pay for half of that half of the ticket price that's in dispute. Another possibility is for Tom to pay for half the cost of the cruise tickets and for you to pay half the cost of the television. Sounds expensive, we know, but that's the cost of a misunderstanding. And to be fair, it's a cost both of you should share.