Amy Dickinson

Amy Dickinson Ask Amy columnist

Dear Amy: I have a 30-year-old niece. She has an 8-year-old son. I love them both.

She has done a wonderful job raising her son alone. Her fiancé died when she was pregnant.

I decided I would like to start a savings account for him so that he can have a start in life after he graduates and (if and when) he continues on to college.

I asked my niece for his Social Security number to start the account but she did not want to give it me, so she opened the account in her name.

I’ve been putting in money every month for the last year and have been getting the receipt from the bank, noting my deposit and the account balance.

When I recently made a deposit, I was disappointed to find out that she took out everything except for $50.

I mentioned that I noticed most of the money was gone. I asked her what she and her son were using it for. She asked me how I knew, and I told her that whenever I make a deposit, I’m notified of the balance.

How should I proceed from here? I want to continue to support my great-nephew, but I personally need to know the money is in the account.— Aunt in Nebraska

Dear Aunt: Your niece knowingly took money designated for her son. Let that sink in.

You both seem naive about money, she obviously believed that she could take money without you realizing it, and you believed that you could put money into an account which she would have ready access to, and it would stay there for the next 10 years or so.

Does she need money now to help support her son? Would you like to contribute to this family’s support now, versus saving for later? That’s something for you to decide.

If you want to designate savings for your great-nephew, the least-complicated way to do this would be to set up an account linked to your own, with automatic monthly deposits going from your primary account into the extra account. You would have total control over the account, and it would be in your name. You could turn the money over to your great-nephew whenever you choose, or designate this amount to go to him in your will. Do some research about this, and talk to your local banker.

Get today’s top stories right in your inbox. Sign up for our daily morning newsletter.

Tribune Media Services

Load comments