Dear Amy: A man who I was involved with many years ago (we have remained friends) announced to me that he is making me beneficiary on his insurance policy.

I am fond of him, but the relationship didn't work out because he constantly made bad decisions. We went our separate ways. He has since had two children with two different women. These children are in addition to the daughter he and his ex-wife had.

He has a very contentious and messy family, including a sister who behaves like some evil twin from a bad Lifetime movie. She has sued various family members. Pure lunacy.

I told him that I did not want to be his beneficiary. He says that I am the only consistently responsible person he knows. He said he knows I would carry out his last wishes.

I know in the event that he passed before me these nut jobs would make my life hell. I told him, "Do not put my name on that policy." He says he doesn't care what I say and that he is doing it anyway.

Is there anything I can do if he goes against my wishes and makes me a beneficiary?

Amy says: Your friend has the right to name you (or anyone) as the beneficiary of his policy. You also have the right to refuse the proceeds, in which case the insurance money would go to his contingent beneficiaries.

I agree with your choice to refuse this. You should once again notify your friend (preferably in writing and keep a copy) that you don't want to be named. Also tell him that if he goes against your wishes you will refuse any proceeds, so he should name contingent beneficiaries. One hopes his children might receive some money after his death; given the high drama in his family, unfortunately this might not happen.

Office dilemma

Dear Amy: I am a 20-year-old college student home for the summer, working full time. The people with whom I work celebrate birthdays by throwing "parties" throughout the year. Everyone is expected to contribute money.

I am only working here until September, and I am saving money so that I can pay for my student loans, rent, groceries, etc., while I am at school.

I didn't mind chipping in $5 for the first party, but my boss just asked me to chip in $11 for the next one!

I don't want to be the only one who doesn't contribute, but I think it is ridiculous to expect that much, just to throw an office birthday party for a co-worker.

Should I offer to bring in some sort of baked good instead? Or should I just suck it up and chip in the money?

Amy says: Like most people I have faced various predicaments related to being completely, partly or merely uncomfortably broke. Like most people, I have tried a variety of responses to this condition, including making up excuses, outright lying, hiding, or faking it until I made it.

The only thing that has ever worked is complete transparency. Most people have been there. And most people are understanding and kind when others are honest.

Your boss and co-workers are treating you like an equal partner, but you aren't. Tell your boss, " This is awkward for me, but I can't afford to chip in for parties. Can I contribute in other ways? I'd be happy to bring in baked goods, or help to set up and clean up afterward."

Send Ask Amy questions to Amy Dickinson at

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