For people in their 50s – and now even in the 60s looking after ageing parents is an important task that they are doing. Most of your life you knew it would happen, but when it happens you are not really fully prepared for that. It takes a financial toll and a physical toll of your life. Of course for some people it is very tough, but for some of us, it is pretty simple – especially if your parent if financially and physically well off.
Let us look at some of the things (financially speaking) that you will have to do:
1. As your parents get older, remember they are more vulnerable: It is easy for a stranger to walk up to your parents residence and collect a donation / charity / investment without troubling them. All it requires is a nice sweet tongue – saying sweet nothings, criticising the gen Y’s work / marriage / eating out habits, and presto! the cheque is out!
- Know your parent’s complete financial position: My parents have completely abdicated their financial RESPONSIBILITIES on me. No not financially but operationally. So I operate his bank ATM, he signs his demat slips and cheques, but largely under direction. I can operate his bank account, investment account etc. They are in perfect health, but the activity of buying, selling, making a fixed deposit, …etc. is not easy and they feel better out sourcing it. Simple. Consolidate all their bank accounts, mutual funds, etc. and make sure that the nominations, kyc, documentation…are in place.
3. Check if they have a Power of Attorney / Will: What happens if they are alive but cannot sign, and when they die? A will is necessary if the assets are complicated – held in joint names with their sibling or something like that. If it is just a bank account, demat account, and a flat in a cooperative society a properly done nomination is enough. However if they have led some kind of a complicated life – 2 marriages, children from both marriages, inherited land, HUF, …etc. it is far better to have a will. In such cases get the will drafted by a lawyer.
- Ask them for their medical preferences: Should you spend money? do they want to put a financial limit? Sadly India does not have a living will. So what you do for your parents will not be questioned…however recently one brother was cribbing about his ‘bhaabhi’ rushing his mother into an unnecessary operation. It became worse when the lady died while in operation. Please clarify with your parents, siblings, etc.
When will they cease to live alone: At some stage a single parent or both become incapable of living alone. Such a situation is tough on all people. The parent who has lived alone till age 75 suddenly has to move to staying in an old people’s home or shift from say Bengaluru to Navi Mumbai or the reverse…This is not easy, and the cut off date has to be fixed in advance. Will they want to live with you or in a old age home? Is the shift to the old age home voluntary or are you pushing them? One co-operative society had to call the children of a couple and tell them ‘Your parents cannot live on the goodness of the others – please take them to an assisted living facility’ .
…….there are many…but 5 is a good start, right?
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