Dear Abby: Much as it pains me to publicly disagree with another attorney, the letter you published from Max D. Rynear-son about the value of an IOU was more wrong than right - and your original advice to parents to get an IOU when lending money to their children was more right than wrong.
Yes, a detailed promissory note with due dates, interest, default provisions and attorneys fees is nice. (A mortgage on the homestead or a security interest in the family Mercedes is even nicer.)However, to say that a written IOU has no legal value is incorrect. I would hope that none of your readers, after seeing that in your column, would tear up an IOU or abandon their hope of repayment.
An IOU is written evidence of a debt. If signed by the borrower, it is even better evidence. As documentary evidence of a debt, a signed IOU is as good as any promissory note. Only the bells and whistles of a promissory note are missing. Any defense that could be used against a signed IOU can be used against a promissory note.
Not lending and not borrowing is best. Getting a note and secured collateral is next best. But if someone you cannot or do not want to refuse needs a loan at a time or place when you can get no lawyer, note or collateral, a signed IOU is enforceable written evidence of a debt. Surely, someone holding one should not think it has no legal value.
- John D. Rice,
attorney at law,
Dear Mr. Rice: Thank you very much for straightening this out. I'm sure that many readers will be relieved to know that the IOUs they are holding are valid legal documents after all. But the words of William Shakespeare seem even truer today than when he wrote, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be. . . ."
Dear Abby: I have a family dilemma. My 11- and 5-year-old sons are disrespectful to my husband and me. They also swear a lot. My problem is my husband doesn't care and refuses to do anything about it, while I care a great deal and try to do everything I can to stop it. Obviously, my kids are getting a mixed message.
Since my husband allows it, my 11-year-old swears at him but knows not to mess with me. My 5-year-old doesn't understand, though, and swears at both of us - and I just can't stand it. I feel as though I'll go out of my mind or even leave the house if it doesn't stop.
How should I deal with this?
- Upset in Utah
Dear Upset: One way to get a child to behave is to withhold privileges (something the child enjoys) if he misbehaves. It might be television, movies, sweets, phone privileges, playing with friends, fa-vorite toys, video games or computer time. Your 5-year-old is certainly old enough to understand English. Once he realizes that cursing Mommy makes her less cooperative and generous, he might think before speaking disrespectfully to you.
By refusing to assert parental authority over his sons, your husband is being incredibly foolish. It appears you're dealing with three children - not two!
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