Author Topic: Ethical dilemma  (Read 1097 times)

Offline IgorStrav

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #9 on: Friday 31 July 20 13:15 BST (UK) »
I may have misunderstood.

Presumably Zaphod is helping the elderly relative by sorting the mail into 'junk', 'needing action (ie bills)' etc., and assisting with follow up action.

'Junk' mail may have been agreed to be disposed of and therefore can be thrown away accordingly, as pre-authorised action.

The found letter isn't 'needing action' or 'junk'.

It should therefore be preserved (possibly in a safer place than being used as a coaster), as the authorisation doesn't cover it.

I don't see that this would be unethical, or compromising anyone's privacy or ownership.

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Offline Andrew Tarr

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #10 on: Friday 31 July 20 17:57 BST (UK) »
As you are related, preserve it. Ideally, digitally. 

I'm not sure that I agree - preserve both if possible, an original is always preferable to a copy.  Digital formats may not last for ever  ::)

I would have thought that if you have been given access to these letters you should be able to ask permission to arrange safe keeping for some of them ?
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Offline Rena

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #11 on: Friday 31 July 20 18:46 BST (UK) »
The legal owner of any mail is the person it is addressed to.

I suggest this specific personal letter is put back into the bottom of the lady's underwear drawer and a more appropriate coaster for her teacup be found.
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Offline Guy Etchells

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #12 on: Friday 31 July 20 18:58 BST (UK) »
Periodically I help an elderly relative with the post that she receives. I recently came across an old letter dated 1967. Quite innocently I opened it, to find a letter home from her late husband who was working overseas. It is a treasure of family history, but I really don't know what to do about it. Physically she is in good health, but her mind is sadly another matter. Should I preserve the letter discreetly for future generations? If I do nothing the letter will ultimately be lost.  If I asked her about it she would not understand. Quite how it came to be in with her current post I do not know, she was using it as a mat for her cup of tea.

Zaph

Zaph you mention you help an elderly relative with the post she receives, did she ask you to do this or are you doing this on your own volition as an act of kindness? If the first then you have her authority to place it in safe keeping, preferably in her house but it could be kept safe elsewhere if that is the only alternative.

Keep in mind if you do put it in safe keeping if she asks you for it you must give it to her, no matter what she wants to do with it.
It may have been in her current post as she knew what it was and wanted to keep it with her post at all times as comfort that her husband was still writing to her.
I know you said her late husband but in her confused mind her husband may still be alive and that letter could be her link to him.
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Offline louisa maud

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #13 on: Friday 31 July 20 19:12 BST (UK) »
Good thinking Guy

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #14 on: Friday 31 July 20 19:33 BST (UK) »
I agree with Guy, it should be kept safely, she may have kept it for sentimental reasons, in a more lucid moment she may ask for it.

It is not for you to dispose of the letter or copy it. When the time comes and  she has sadly gone, that decision will be for her Executors, or if intestate, whoever is granted Administration.

I always feel there is something intrusive in publicising the contents of personal letters between a husband and wife After their decease, even to other family members, unless they made it known during their lifetime that they didn't mind what was done with them.

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Online Mike in Cumbria

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #15 on: Friday 31 July 20 20:14 BST (UK) »
Not much of a dilemma here to me. You're looking after this woman and seen something of hers that you would like. Of course you can't just take it.
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Offline Zaphod99

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #16 on: Friday 31 July 20 21:04 BST (UK) »
Wow, does it always get this heated?  I asked a simple question, not intending to start a war. There are two extremes here, let's discuss them, not fight.

I did initially say "Physically she is in good health, but her mind is sadly another matter."  We do have Power Of Attorney (POA) and I hadn't actually thought about applying that. However, I almost think that is irrelevant here. We can make financial decisions, residential decisions, health decisions, etc.  She is beyond caring about trivialities like letters from 50 years ago, but I do struggle ethically about the letter.

I photographed it and read it.  Am I a bad person?

Zaph

Offline IgorStrav

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Re: Ethical dilemma
« Reply #17 on: Friday 31 July 20 21:15 BST (UK) »
Wow, does it always get this heated?  I asked a simple question, not intending to start a war. There are two extremes here, let's discuss them, not fight.

I did initially say "Physically she is in good health, but her mind is sadly another matter."  We do have Power Of Attorney (POA) and I hadn't actually thought about applying that. However, I almost think that is irrelevant here. We can make financial decisions, residential decisions, health decisions, etc.  She is beyond caring about trivialities like letters from 50 years ago, but I do struggle ethically about the letter.

I photographed it and read it.  Am I a bad person?

Zaph

No
Pay, Kent. 
Barham, Kent. 
Cork(e), Kent. 
Cooley, Kent.
Barwell, Rutland/Northants/Greenwich.
Cotterill, Derbys.
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Burton, East London.
Barlow, East London
Wayling, East London
Wade, Greenwich/Brightlingsea, Essex.
Thorpe, Brightlingsea, Essex