Senior citizens are a particularly vulnerable section of society. Consider:
- While most seniors worked at one point of time, post taking retirement from active life the no. of people they interact with decreases. This leads to being progressively out of touch with the recent developments.
- Most seniors, especially from the salaried class, never had to deal with large sums of money and the first large sums they see are when they get retirement benefits or when they sell a property. Another source is gift from children. Given that they never had to deal with large sums, or invested beyond fixed deposits, it is easy for them to get carried away with multiple advices from various bankers and brokers leading to loss of value in investments.
- Most senior citizens face progressing health issues which leads to progressive loss of usage of faculties – be it physical or mental. Loss of memory and restricted movement is one such. This leads them to forget their investments and financial position.
- Given the rise in the number of seniors living alone, as a result of failing health, they become increasingly dependent of, both physically and mentally, on neighbours and domestic helps. The effect of this is visible in the increase in the number of seniors being duped or other crimes being committed against them.
- Declining health may cause some of the senior citizens to be hospitalised over extended periods of time. This leads to loss of access to bank accounts and financial assets which may, in some cases, also deprive them of money to meet medical expenditure.
- The situation is worse for most single women in India, as most of their lives they left the money management to their husbands and never bothered to look into finances. Death of the husband thus throws them into a situation where they don’t know what to do, how to do and who to trust.
- At the same time, Seniors want to feel in control and the need is to have freedom to spend as they like, be it giving gifts to grand-children or going on a holiday.
In countries like USA and UK the concept of Living Wills helps in dealing with such issues. India has to still give recognition to Living Wills.
Trusts can be an effective solution to deal with all or some of the issues outlined above. We can especially customise trusts to meet any or all the requirements listed above and act as a Trustee to ensure the sensitivities of all individuals are taken care of.