If you are above 70 years of age, have a credit card, use net banking, have invested in mutual funds, make E deposits, redeem it online, pay your taxes online, transfer moneys online, …Congrats, you deserve a prize.

My friend just paid Rs. X into her brother’s credit card this Monday…the cheque has not yet come for payment. At the branch they have no clue about what happened. She asked the bank, the officer asked the ‘guard’. He said ‘somebody comes everyday and takes the cheque…’ The bank has no clue what happened after that. Monday to Friday is 5 days. Luckily she was just paying something on account – if a bill was due, he would have had to pay interest even though the payment has already been made. Cheque issued but not encashed by the bank? PSU bank, not willing to name it.

Another friend went to encash her father’s bank account – he needed money for a hospitalisation. Well, well. ‘These forms are old cannot be used’ was the first statement. ‘Sir I have a cheque..she said’ – ha ‘signature difference’ see there is over writing she was told. So her father was in hospital and she had no clue how to withdraw money from her father’s account. Private sector small bank. She read them the riot act, she closed the account and collected cash.

Seriously, the banking industry is not in great shape if you consider it from the client’s point of view. I have no clue how a senior citizen can deal with these banks on their own. My father in law got treated badly by SOUTH INDIAN CO-OPERATIVE BANK (taken over by another co-op bank..SVC). He wrote to the RBI (most of us are skeptical, right?) and in the next week the branch manager accompanied by another ‘Tamil speaking’ banker were at his house. His work got done, with a lot of profuse apologies…but such Senior Citizens are rare. Normally the senior citizens just accept their fate.

So should Senior Citizens not use banking? that too is not possible. Somebody younger has to take charge – and this person should be responsible and honest. Senior citizens should not bother about small amounts getting wasted. I handle the accounts of a senior citizen and she has more than adequate money. When she gets cheques of Rs. 1200 favoring a bank account which has been closed, I have to tell her that neither of us have the time or willingness to do an account change mandate..so she has to let the amount go. She has a few million lying in her mutual funds and in her bank accounts too. She has a house that is likely to go to charity as she has no relatives around her (to whom she wants go give, that is!!). So her will says that this house will go to charity – and she has no clue which charity. Thank God I did not accept the job of an executor.

My suggestion is simplify as much as possible and find somebody 30 years younger to you willing to look after your finance stuff. Pay a monthly retainer of say Rs. 1000 so that you can get all your things done by them. Ideally a nephew or niece (if there is no son/daughter willing to do it) ..do not try handling it yourself beyond the age of say 75. I am seeing older people struggle, and then get into a confrontational mode if you ask them about their financial mistakes. I see a couple of them past 80 handling their own money. No I am not blaming them – they are childless and I am not offering to take on the whole responsibility (I am sure they would happily give it to me, but it is a physical impossibility, given Mumbai distances). I also see some senior citizens in denial mode – they cannot explain large gaps in cash – which means they have been cheated by servants – I refuse to step in to do a reconciliation.

There is a demand for small level, operational help. However while I can see the need, I cannot see the supply side nor a willingness to make it happen.


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  1. Dear Subra
    One of my friends father is in hospital. He cannot sign cheques any more. His Government pension gets credited in account but cannot be withdrawn which my friend needs desperately for his father’s treatment. Any solution?

  2. simple one. Take the RM / some bank officer to the hospital and ask your dad to sigh…AND take his thumb impression also.

    get a doc certificate that he cannot sign…

  3. @sanjiv, he may get e-banking and ATM facility for his father. One time job only. Once he gets e-banking account/ATM, he can manage on behalf of his parents

  4. Dear Subra Sir,

    A very important aspect you have touched today. Being inclined towards personal I take care of my home finances in whatever best way I can. This includes taking care of my wife’s, my father’s and my mother’s accounts, their IT, FDs etc. Day to day home needs are taken care by my father but things like netbanking, Online FDs, Online Bill payments etc are done by me.

    After my father in law’s demise, I started taking care of my mother in law’s finances also.

    Its very necessary to have a dependable younger person to be able to carry us forward in those difficult times. Hope things would be easier when I reach that stage.

    Even if someone is able to provide such financial help, do you think the people will come out with all the information, since it involves a major aspect of their life?


  5. Satish Kumar Pranatharthyharan

    Dear Sir,

    This is what exactly I am doing for my father for the past 10 years. This system works very well when the concerned have impeccable trust on each other.

    Trust matters a lot in such matters. Thanks for your nice article.

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