When parents give away their money too early
(The Philippine Star) | Updated November 10, 2012 - 12:00am
At their 54th anniversary, my friends made a decision to distribute their combined assets among their living heirs. Their rationale,“Para walang gulo.” (To avoid trouble). They added one proviso: “While still alive, income from these properties will be used to maintain our present lifestyle inclusive of medical expenses, extravagant trips and unlimited shopping.”
“That’s easy,” replied the heirs. The income was substantial to indulge the old folks with a bonus that the heirs can use in any manner they wanted.
The first year passed without a hitch, but soon the problem surfaced. Each child used all kinds of tactics to keep the money from his parents. It reached a point where the poor retirees had to beg for sustenance, robbing them of the dignity they worked hard to uphold.
What went wrong?
“Bad decision,” said a cautious friend who warned the couple of this scenario. “Children are so unreliable when it comes to inherited money.”
Money received, which was not expected and not a direct result of something they worked for, is not given the same value as money earned with their own sweat and tears. They lose their sense of propriety; gratitude is tainted by greed and decency gone. This is compounded by in-laws who can tilt or convince their respective spouses to throw out good sense and filial affection like soiled rugs, “Honey, they’re going to die anyway, so why waste good money on them?”
To avoid falling into this vulnerable, pitiful state, keep these 10 tips in mind:
1. Do not retire. If you’re over-aged, retire and get all the benefits but find another income-generating job or open a business that will keep you active physically and mentally. Travel and bond with true friends, play a sport, learn a new hobby and volunteer in your community or parish. Don’t loaf around. Your spouse will hate you because you’ve become a sloppy, listless bum with nothing good to say about the household and things that you never bothered about before. Solve crossword puzzles, play Scrabble, write your memoirs, and above all, read — this will keep you alert and keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
2. Live in your own place to enjoy independence, privacy and a solo life. If you move in with your children, your rank or degree of importance is reduced to that of a bed spacer who has no place of honor or, worse, like crumbling furniture merely displayed with no added value. Might you kowtow to conform to their own rules that are not kind, considerate or mindful of you? If you witness your children engaged in a war of will and wits with your grandchildren, whom will you side with? Will they even appreciate your arbitration? Remind your children that silence is not a sign of weakness; you are merely processing data that is taking longer to complete.
3. Hold on to your nest egg, bank deposits and assets. If you want to help your children, do give, but not to the extent that you wipe out your life’s earnings, singing heroically “not a shirt on my back nor a penny to my name.”Staying solvent and in the black is a good hedge against all kinds of tempests. You will sleep better, you will not be afraid to express your opinion and you will be confident about yourself.
4. Don’t believe your children’s promise to care for you when you grow old.Priorities change. Many children are not guilt-ridden or filled with a sense of moral obligation when the wife and offspring take top billing in their lives. There are still children who would consider it a privilege to show compassion, genuine love and deep concern for their parents but be warned that not all children think alike.
5. Expand your circle of friends to include young ones who will definitely outlive your old BFFs. Keep up with new inventions, trends, music and lifestyle including all the scams and schemes you should guard against. Remember that when you mix with the young, you also open a fresh avenue to channel your thoughts, experiences and values through so that the lessons you learned are not lost, forgotten or buried with you.
6. Be well groomed and smelling fresh of spring water all the time. There’s nothing more depressing than seeing people exhale when you walk by because you reek of baul (camphor chest) or lupa (dirt). Old age or bust, don’t look and smell like a corpse when you’re not one yet.
7. Do not meddle in the life of your children. If they ask for your counsel, give it, but be ready to accept that they may not take it. Their situations in life cannot be compared to the situations that you experienced in your life. The playing field has changed and they need to develop their own set of survival skills. If you raised them to be street smart, they can handle themselves in tough situations and be able to read people. Champion and encourage their dreams and desires but on their own terms.
8. Do not use old age as your shield and justification for turning grumpy. There’s nothing more annoying than an arrogant, old fool. Welcome each day as another chance to be kind and forgiving, to yourself and to others.
9. Listen to what others may say. Do not throw your weight around just because you are a septuagenarian or a nonagenarian. You are not a depository of knowledge. Even if the roles have been reversed, make growing old a fun-filled, pleasant experience for you and your brood.
10. Pray always and focus on your eternal life. You will definitely leave everything behind, a final journey detached from burden and care. Be more accepting that, sooner, not later, you will croak. Prepare your swan song with a humble and contrite heart. If you believe in a merciful and loving God, there is no need to strut like a star. Nobody is.