GIVING LIFE A CHANCE

Lakshmi, 63 a resident of Kochi, retired a few years back from a semi govt job. She had lost her husband sometime before retirement, who was into business and had encouraged her to study and work when the social structure around was not supportive. She had two kids, daughter Shreya, settled in Dubai and the son Arun, in Australia. She visited both of them almost every year. Lakshmi’s husband had expired without a will and so his office where he operated from was eventually transferred to all the three survivors.

However her daughter was always apprehensive that she was more inclined towards her son when it comes to her wealth and so the joint holding of the office was a bone of contention for the small family as the daughter would not cooperate when it comes to any decision on the said property, which would lead to her being depressed with a feeling of helplessness. She suffers from a few medical conditions as well which develops with age.

Woman with shadow in background dancing

She was a worried person when she first approached a financial planner along with her son. She was asked to put down her goals in life, her concern areas, etc. After persuasion she came out with around 30 of them, though it was more of things to do list or pending things to attend to, there were some goals which were close to her heart which she always wanted to do and/or pursue.

Her concern areas:

  1. Plethora of bank accounts – herself, daughter & son
  2. Demat accounts -portfolio of stocks her husband invested & she traded in
  3. Office property with no occupational certificate – rent it or sale it
  4. Division of personal assets among the kids
  5. House was in bad shape since the kids were away, husband expired & there was no motivation with all of the above to handle

Income came from different sources like:

  1. Pension income
  2. Income from corpus – Interest & dividend
  3. Rental income

She was the only one left at home to handle the baggage created over the years by the family and the friction between the kids and the suspect daughter gave her sleepless nights.

However she had listed three wonderful goals for herself:

  1. To learn computers, email, chatting etc. To stay in touch with her kids and her grand children,
  2. To learn English speaking, and
  3. To learn an art form of painting which she used to like as a child.

As it is said, a long journey starts with a single step, she meticulously started working on the number of bank accounts, aligning them with the pension income, lockers, demat account, convenience of monitoring by the kids and her approachability etc. It took a lot of thought, energy visiting them and a few months, but it shaped up well.

Then was the turn of equity investments lying in demat account and mutual funds where she and her husband had invested in various combinations with the kids some jointly held, some single.

Side by side she first enrolled for the art course where she was one amongst the seven kids who were learning it and ended up not only enjoying the paintings but made six small friends whom she would meet twice a week. Her grand kids had some handmade gifts from their grandma.

Now it was the turn of the computer and internet classes which made her connect to her kids and their families almost any time she wanted to. Though it took time to adjust and understand to the new age tools, it was taking shape.

Coming back to the equity investments were streamlined to a couple of accounts, approachable and with online access to the kids too.

Then, her Will and the clear allocation of valuables she made with different bank locker accounts. Though she intended that both the kids could choose what they wanted in an amicable fashion, it hasn’t yet materialised, but she has done her bit. The Will was a big challenge for three reasons

  1. It was the first time she had put all the things together and looking at the total assets at one go and thinking of the next step,
  2. Then the idea of division(allocation) of the same between the kids was painful to begin with specially when the relationships were not up to the mark, and
  3. The biggest issue was who to trust to make the will, since all her siblings were senior to her and hardly anybody to count on, which settled after a long haul.

On the same lines one concern of her son that lay unattended to, was whom to fall back on in case of medical emergencies, though money as such was not a concern, but who will attend to such issues like hospitalization, at that point of time. So an emergency fund was transferred to the joint account she had with her son that had an online access. He could transfer it to his in – laws in town almost of the same age as Lakshmi, till he can reach back home.

As things started falling in place one after other and she started enjoying life with her engagements she became open to the idea of making up the house, which she strongly opposed earlier, not only she spent a few lacs, but she stayed away from home giving the contractor the whole place for two and a half months, monitoring the progress almost on a daily basis.

Though the concern areas still prevail on the relationship front, she has relieved herself of the burden of simplification of her holdings by allocation to the kids in her own way and above all found for herself the space to express herself and stay in touch with the grandchildren & others.