Money matters…

It is better to be organized and prepared on financial matters. Information not documented or shared makes the living partner vulnerable.

Subramaniam & Kala were the typical Mylapore ( Chennai) retired couple. Every December and January months spent in Kutcheri (concerts) hopping and eating tiffin/ lunch in various sabhas (concert halls) Subramaniam was 72 and had retired from the private sector. He was an extremely savy person on money matters. He had invested substantially in stocks and mutual funds over the past 20 years and therefore enjoyed a good corpus. Financially they were well off.. With both the children well settled abroad, they used their once a year time to visit each daughter and her family for a couple of weeks once every two years. They had a good group of friends to socialise as also go for short picnics whenever they wanted a break. They kept themselves healthy. Life couldn’t have been better.

Till the morning Subramaniam had a massive heart attack and passed away. The end came too Quickly. He did not suffer from any ailments, nor was there any indication . After the 13 days of ceremonies, Kala was left to pick up the pieces and move ahead with life. Her daughters had to return back to the US. Kala could not join them as there was so much to be done. Relatives and friends tried to keep her in cheer. But then financial matters were personal and had to be handled.

As long as he was alive, the investments were the sole preserve of Subramaniam and he had not appraised how much of money was there and neither was Kala interested in these matters as long as someone handled it for her. Now she was going to have to handle it all for the first time in her life… that too without any guidance or support. She was at a loss.

She had to get her legal and financial papers in order. A friend helped her. First task was on the Banks and FD’s. This was relatively easy as the Banks gave the information needed. The challenge was on the credit cards. They had to be blocked. She started receiving calls on payments due, that was when she realized how many credit cards he had.

The next challenge was to collate user id and passwords for various money related matters. Subramaniam was meticulous. He had informed his daughters of all his user ids and passwords that were in a protected excel document ( Microsoft) and they had his mail id access. From utility payments to other transactions, the log ins and passwords were necessary. Next challenge was to retrieve investment documents . The search for original documents and where they were located was a challenge. Digital documentation compounded the challenge further. This kept Kala busy from morning to evening. Many a times frustrated and the feeling of helplessness loomed large. She had never imagined a situation like this. Many of us go through such situations. Luckily someone suggested informing the insurance agency and luckily that would fetch her some money.

Kala kept notes on all the work that she was going through. Luckily she could operate the computers very well and that helped her. Something that Subramaniam insisted and she did after a lot of protest. It came in handy. She began to write every process down . Meticulously. From legal heirship certificate to all other necessary papers, she learnt it with experience. Once everything fell in place, she aligned the investments in a way that she could access it when she needed. She did re plan her investments with help of an investment advisor in a way that she could access them when she needed them. Liquidity was her main concern that was well addressed.

Today, Kala has established a consulting firm and connects with people above 60. She helps them plan and most importantly keep document of all financial and health records. Helps them index them and put it in an accessible place. Trains elders on consolidating investments into neatly identifiable assets. She ensures that both spouses are aligned on the financial documentation so that it makes each of them independent. Kala is an inspiration to many others . She has helped so many people and is a sought after speaker in most of the senior events. News reports say that there are over INR 2000 crores of unclaimed dividends with investor protector authority. Kala feels that this education is a must for every family.

The article is contributed by Ms. Bhuvaneshwari, Finsherpa, a boutique consulting firm based out of Chennai

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