Financial Planning for the elderly and by the elderly

Routinely a number of articles appear in newspapers and magazines about the problems of the elderly. They usually focus on the various illnesses that plague them or the loneliness and depression they face. We do not see too many articles on their finance. We are not talking about saving for the future but about handling the existing finance to take care of their needs during their life time.

According to a survey, the healthy life span of an Indian male has gone up from 56 years in 1990 to 65.16 in 2013 and that of women from 60 to 68.5 during the same period. Assuming they live another 10 to 15 years more, we are talking about an aging population in the age group 75 to 85. Women outlive their spouse by about 10 to 15 years. So that brings us to the big question – are these women equipped to handle their finances? In the present scenario, many of these elderly live and manage on their own. Even presuming their children give a helping hand, it is essential that these women know where they stand with regard to their finances. Women in general and in India in particular (especially in the age group we are talking about), leave all financial matter to the men in the family. There is a possibility that this can lead to unexpected unpleasant situations with the children. So it is better that women do not shy away from taking responsibility for their money matters – YES, MONEY MATTERS!

So what does an elderly couple do? It is essential that they sit together and discuss the finance and have a complete up-to-date record of all their investments in an accessible place– moveable and immovable - the sources of their income, bank accounts in joint names or as either/survivor, nomination given in all their investments, jewelleries listed and a proper Will, in place. Ideally all wealth must be in both their names and inherited by their children only after their life time. This is not any negative reflection on the children but a safeguard against things going wrong.

Age also brings with it memory loss and certain confusion while discharging everyday work. The children should keep an eye on the way their parent/s handle everyday life, without being aggressively dominating or intrusive. They must step in to handle the issue with sensitivity while all the time ensuring that the help is welcome and in good spirit. They must keep them involved but remove their burden. It is in everybody’s interest to be practical and systematic in dealing with this sensitive issue of finance.