Sometimes people who have good intentions can give bad advice. An illustration of this comes from a recent Dear Abby column that advised a woman to tell her mother to set up a trust.
The columnist known as Dear Abby has been giving advice for decades to newspaper readers who write in with problems. To her loyal readers she is seen as a wise woman who can always be counted on to assess a situation, cut to the chase and dispense good advice.
However, a recent column in which she advises a woman to tell her mother to get a trust illustrates why some types of advice are better left to lawyers.
The column was published in the Chicago Sun Times as "Dear Abby: He wants a night when wife dresses sexy."
A woman wrote in to say that her mother has given her older brother an allowance for many years. The brother lives in another country because he is a fugitive from the law with outstanding warrants. The mother fears that without the money the brother will become homeless and not able to support himself. Because of this the mother expects the daughter to continue giving money to her brother after the mother passes away.
Abby suggests that the woman tell her mother to set up a trust for the brother so that he will be taken care of and it will not be the letter writer's problem.
At first glance, that advice might seem reasonable. A trust would be a great way for a mother to provide for a son who needs money but is not able to take care of himself.
Under ordinary circumstances a trust lawyer would be happy to set up this type of trust. However, this is not an ordinary circumstance. Since the brother is a fugitive, anyone who knowingly helps him could face legal consequences. The better advice may have been to consult an attorney.