Legal and practical measures to be taken by seniors to safeguard themselves and their property

SURVIVAL OF SENIORS  IN THIS DIFFICULT WORLD  – legal and practical precautions

After working throughout life – may be both of them for about 40 years, there comes a time of retirement  when regular  monthly cheque stops. If one was prudent enough , one might have saved substantial sums of money and assets to live well and comfortably on retirement. This is the time you have looked forward to and enjoy now with certain precautions

In this write-up an effort has been made to describe legal and practical precautions to be taken  by  seniors to thwart evil eyes  some one  may  have on life, wealth and assets.. Evil eyes could be of ones near and dear ,domestic help  /of neighbours and/or unrelated persons.

LEGAL MEASURES

 WILL  WRITING AND REGISTERING

Will is a legal declaration of the intention of the testator i.e. writer of will with respect to  his /her own property including business which is desired to be carried into effect after one’s death – it is revocable during the life time of writer of will . It is prerogative of the person to distribute and DISINHERIT   any one from his assets even to   the extent of  his/her  legal heirs. While writing WILL, be considerate to each children including married daughters. It is no use saying that I had spent lots of money on her marriage.

Will is required to be written when  one is in sound physical and mental condition and preferably  get it registered.. with registered authority of the state.  Courts, Insurance Companies, banks, municipal committees etc prefer registered will than unregistered one. In case of unregistered will, many institutions insist   that same be probated in the proper court of law  which is costly affair costing  about 3 percent of total value of property and lawyer fee and time-consuming may be few years.Will requires only plan paper no stamp paper witnessed by two persons on each page and attested by SDM of registering court. If spouse has his/her own property , same person should also write and register will. There is a misconception that if property is held by   the husband, same will be inherited by wife on the death of husband. It is incorrect.

Generally and prudently, while writing will, first every thing  should be  given to spouse and on his/her death , to be distributed to next legal heirs. Also, nominees in various instruments and Will should be same to avoid any controversy. Childless couple or single persons should also write will otherwise many legal heirs spring up on death of such persons. It is highly desireable that spouse should know contents of WILL and  where  same has been kept.

In case there is no Will, property will be distributed by legal heirs and/or  Court in case of differences  as per the religion of the dying person. In the case of male Hindu, one  part is given to spouse and one each to sons and daughters. Just imagine, if there is a flat, of say, 1000 sq feet, it cannot be physically distributed and everyone will be owner of flat jointly . Similarly , there will be many business partners including senior and children apart from spouses and it is left to the imagination of readers to draw conclusions  about what would happen to business.

It is preferable that contents of the Will are kept secret from legal heirs and others otherwise pressure can be built on writer  of will to change the Will according to the desire of legal heirs.  Hence, it is desire able that Will be kept in a safe place beyond the hands of  legal heirs and others and still better in the locker in the bank.

Will can be revised several times but registered will can be revised by later registered will only.

Nomination and Will

General assumption is that a nominee for NSC, LIC polices, Fixed deposits, Mutual funds, Provident Fund  and Saving bank account is the legal heir for the proceeds for which he or she was nominated. Supreme Court does not feel so. SC in the case of Sarbati Devi Vs Usha Devi in 1984 had held that ‘Mere nomination under section 39 of the Insurance Act, 1938 does not have the effect of conferring on the nominee any beneficial interest in the amount payable under the life insurance policy on the death of the assured. The nomination only indicates the person who is authorised to receive the amount on  payment. The amount, however, can be claimed by the heirs of the assured in accordance  with the law of succession governing them. Hence,  one  needs to have a WILL in place to make sure that the person of your choice receive the amount meaning thereby the person  as nominee and receiver in the WILL are same person.

PROPERTY IN JOINT NAMES

If both  husband and wife have contributed to the purchase of property, both should write will for the part for which they  are owners  and should write will to this effect also. It is imperative that property be not got registered with any other person except spouse. In Delhi, DDA has such a facility where in anyone including spouse, son, daughter can be co owner even  when  they have not paid the money for the purchase of that property. Sometimes this unnecessary  benevolence TO ANYONE OTHER THAN SPOUSE  has caused various legal problems to the original owner.

LEASE HOLD PROPERTY

Till few years ago,   only Lease hold   properties were allotted in Northern India  including Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad  and a small Lease money was required to be paid every year as Lease money.  System has been given a go by.  Now it is possible to get the property converted to  FREE HOLD  by  one time payment. It is advisable to get the property converted  to  free hold by payment of certain amount and get same registered in  own  name as  legal owner.

PROPERTY PURCHASED ON POWER OF ATTORNEY.

In Delhi and around large number of properties were sold and purchased by people on POWER OF ATTORNEY.

Legally POA Properties stay in the name of the original owner in DDA and Corporation records  and the person gives a power to purchaser to do any act on his behalf including selling  of the property. In legal terms,  power of attorney holder  is not  legal owner of the property even though he may be in possession of the property.  Power of attorney also expires with the death of the person who gave such a power of attorney. From time to time DDA and other agencies have allowed such properties to be made Free Hold in the name of the  last purchaser. It is suggested that such power of attorney  properties be got Free Hold by making certain payments to the authority and stamp duty. Once property is converted into freehold property in one’s name, immediately one should inform Corporation along with copy of free hold registered conveyance deed that the property be mutated in his/her name in municipal records and also for payment of property tax.

IMMOVABLE PROPERTY BELONGS TO ONE IN WHOSE NAME IT IS REGISTERED WITH REGISTERING AUTHORITY AND NOT TO ONE WHO HAS GOT POWER OF ATTORNEY FROM ORIGINAL OWNER

PRACTICAL PRECAUTIONS

PROPERTY ON RENT

If property is to be given on rent, certain  precautions have to be observed by seniors such as legally vetted agreement registered in court and premises given  on rent  to the good party even if rent is less, by involving reputed  property     dealer. Agreement will also provide that in  case the property is not vacated on the expiry of Lease period, the rent shall be  …. times of the original rent.

For giving on rent the property, don’t give or hand over the key to any property dealer who is involved in bringing tenants. One 82 year senior  retired   IAS woman lost control of that part  of  the flat to a property dealer because he occupied same without rent and is not vacating knowing very well she   is old, infirm , helpless etc. Case is going in Delhi Court  for several years and dates are managed by  other party  with the connivance of court staff.

HANDING OVER THE BUILDING TO BUILDER FOR MULTI STOREY FLATS

Builders or property dealers in India are not known to be honest. One has to be careful  while dealing with such persons. If agreed to such an arrangement, consult good legal firm with reputation for legal vetted agreement

PROPERTY SHARKS

In large city and now in even small cities , there are property sharks  who by dubious means try to grab big properties of elderly persons by dubious means. They use various means to create hurdles in the   sale  of such properties  senior  persons.  If such senior persons has to sell the property, they should consult preferably only one property dealer . However, don’t sign blindly to any document put before you for your signature. Read it carefully and take your own time. Such persons can take the help of HELPAGE, AGEWELL /DIGNITY FOUNDATION AND/ OR AN ADVOCATE.

LOAN   CLOSURE ON  PROPERTY

In case you had taken loan while being employed and that loan has since been paid off, don’t forget to take back documents which were submitted to bank or your office for loan purposes and also all clear dues certificate .

LARGE PROPERTY

In case one has   large property whose price has appreciated considerably , one can consider  selling such a property and buying small property which is safe, manageable  and secure. It is more important to live and live safely than to live in big mansion.

FINANCES

After sixty, it is time to re asses your assets and risks. Conservation of capital becomes an important decision while allocating investments . Risk profile of senior citizens is towards low risk – PPF, Post Office monthly scheme (POMS), Fixed deposits with banks, senior citizens saving scheme. Remember Rs. one lakh lost at 20 is different from Rs. one lakh lost at 60 years.

Before parting with your savings,consider all the aspects of proposed investment   so that you are not taken in by advertisements assuring of an unusually high return and safety.

 Now a days seniors are living up to 90 years – full thirty  years after their retirement with inflation as high as 8%. Hence it is essential that they put their hard-earned money earns enough in whatever financial route they choose that they get enough returns so that principal amount does not erode rather it increases with the passage of time. Remember you cannot enjoy retirement if you are BROKE.  A comfortable income does not guarantee happiness in old age, but too little income does guarantee misery and its as simple as that.

Tips to tame inflation  Scrutinise our monthly  shopping list and give priority to healthy food, cut  back on junk food.

Check the weight of packaged goods, something costing the same as a rival brand could actually be of a lower weight while the two appear similar. Buy only recently packaged goods and avoid buying packaged foods in large quantities to avoid wastage. Also, avoid goods on impulse just because the discount looks attractive; focus on what you really need.Go for less known brands – they may not be necessarily of poor quality. Sometimes big brands cost more because they advertise more and you know how for this advertisement YOU.

Keep track of your finances.Don’t keep money with private or public limited companies for higher interests. Sleep well with lesser interest and lose sleep with higher interests. Many senior citizens have  lost their principal amount in public limited companies in the past.

Emergency Funds  It is necessary to have an Emergency Fund which helps through rainy day or say tough times. It takes only one uncertain situation to throw everything haywire. It is better to depend on your emergency funds instead of borrowing from friends and relatives. Don’t forget that no help may be coming forward for such a help.

Check bank/credit card statements. Computers don’t make mistakes but daily paid operators do make mistakes. Avoid Internet banking. Don’t give personal bank information to unsolicited e mails. Many have  lost their money from bank by fraudulent withdrawals.. Withdraw only small amount from bank. Never count money in the presence of domestic helps.  Don’t trust anyone and don’t show your riches.

NON RETURN OF FIXED DEPOSIT MONEY BY  PUBLIC /PRIVATE COMPANIES

In case you have kept money in a private or public limited company, they are not returning same at the end of the period, start writing to the Directors of the company at their residential addresses stating there that you are a senior citizen , repeatedly and such an approach has brought money back.

There is no need for you to leave too much for posterity. Let them learn to earn, Mind you no one is ever grateful for the wealth one inherits.

REMEMBER  WEALTH IS NOT HIS THAT HAS IT BUT HIS THAT ENJOYS IT

REVERSE MORTGAGE

This is a new concept introduced new in India. It means that in case you do not have enough money to provide for your old age beyond 60 years, you could mortgage your house  to a bank ora financial institute and get a fixed sum on monthly, quarterly or annual basis , which takes care of your regular expenses. Clients do not have to return loans because bank becomes the title holder of the house. Senior citizens are allowed to live in their house for life. This is for own built or brought house or flat and not for ancestral flat or house. Six months after the surviving spouse passes away, the bank gives the legal heirs an opportunity to pay back the loan and recover the house. If they fail to do so, the bank has the right to sell it off and use the money to recover the loan amount. Whatever money is left over is handed over to the legal heirs of the deceased.

THE MAINTENANCE AND WELFARE OF PARENTS AND SENIOR CITIZENS ACT, 2007

There was a time when Indian society laid stress on providing care for the elderly. However, due to withering of joint family system, many of elderly are not being looked after by their family. Consequently,many older persons, particularly widowed women are now forced to spend their twilight years all alone and are exposed to emotional neglect and to lack of physical and financial support.

Act has cast an obligation on the persons who inherit the property of their aged relatives to maintain such aged relatives (For details read the Act) .

GIFT DEED

No gift deed of the property till one is alive whatever is persuasion or threat. In case of threat, one can go to police station and report against the person for threat etc . In case, police refuse to register complaint, please send written report through  registered /speed  post and or courier with a copy to Police Commissioner, etc.

NO SURETY/GUARANTEE  OF LOAN/ ADVANCE  TO ANYONE  INCLUDING CHILDREN

Near relatives of such  senior persons approach them for signing as surety for the advance or loan to be taken by them from LIC, Banks etc for any purpose. After paying few instalments, they stop payment of instalments and in connivance with the banks etc, they send goons for recovery of the loan. Supreme Court has recently held that guarantor is accountable if the real borrower fails to pay the loan taken from the bank.

BANK ACCOUNTS AND LOCKER

Bank account , locker,mutual funds, shares, etc  should be in joint names with proviso to operation of same by either or survivor.

 

PUBLIC PROVIDENT FUND

Many seniors have PPF account in Banks and Post Office.

Please check that nominee is your spouse otherwise as per Public Provident Fund Act, money shall go to the nominee – may be any unknown person.

HEALTH

Take special care of your wife. Wife are more concerned about the health of husbands and generally don’t care about their own health. It is duty of senior male person to be careful about his wife health also.

High moral helps you to come to terms with old age. The mind plays a big part in making  you feel younger  or older than years. A MAN /WOMAN IS AS OLD AS HE/SHE  FEELS. . Life is tough, rough and dreamy. But still it is possible to live without a bang of dog look. We should once in a while to count our BLESSINGS. It  is time we slow down before our health forces us to.We need to give our body and mind, the semblance of CALM  and SANITY they deserve and make tranquility and composure, in the face of aggravation.

LEARN TO IGNORE WHAT ONE CANNOT CONTROL

AND

LEARN TO CONTROL WHAT ONE CAN

Avoid STRESS. it causes many diseases. Exercise is important. Most of us have done away with the need for physical exercise in our daily task. Walking is an excellent exercise. it costs nothing. If one walks, one feels good.

It is highly desire able that Health of senior couple be taken seriously by themselves. No one is going to come  to their aid. Hence, all should try to find from their employers whether there is any scheme of Medical Insurance from where they were employed even by annual or one time  payment. Central Government, Defence Forces, Delhi Government employees have such scheme for their pensioners and retirees should take advantage of same by one time payment. In case no such scheme is available, such couple should go for mediclaim policies of Insurance Companies even after 60 years.   However, don’t forget to read devilish details of policy  printed in fine prints.

LONELINESS

Loneliness in old age is all about perception. It is an attitude which one can change or attempt to change even after retirement. One has to develop after retirement ways to keep himself busy may be anything which interests him/her.

Instead of brooding, it pays to stay in touch with friends. socializing with people you like, can add a decade or so to your life because those with net work of friends lived longer than those who did not socialize.

RELATIONSHIP

Indian husbands  so far have  been very lucky unlike Japanese husbands. A leading Japanese women’s magazine has reported  that in Japan women are divorcing their  husbands after they retire as they are considered as Sodai gomai, meaning  much garbage. The husbands  are called eleven to seven men as they are away at their workplace the rest of the time. After they retire, the wives are unable to tolerate their presence and dominance, and seek the solution of cutting the Gordian knot by applying for divorce.

Remember one must keep one’s  wife happy during  life time even if she is wrong sometimes because it is only your life time that she would have a SAY as none is going to listen to her afterwards.

The husband wife team factually heats up only in old age, when all their children desert. It is precisely for this companionship that the institutions of marriage was conceived. Partners for this union have to necessarily pass the rigorous of family life and settle down to the peace of coexistence.

Do not offer advice to children unless sought. Do not unnecessarily interfere in their affairs. Don’t take children for granted. Do thank them when they show consideration to you but never expect thanks for help you may give or have given.Avoid having to seek financial help from them.

For God’s sake treat your daughter in law well and if couple desires to live separately, let them live so otherwise your life after retirement is going to be  HELL.  Also do not pamper grand children. Daughter in-laws generally abhor this interference. Avoid it.

CREATION OF SOCIAL GROUP IN IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURHOOD

Leave your designation at the table while retiring. All retired people are equal in status and do not attempt to dominate because of your past position.

It is highly desirable that a social group be formed in immediate neighbourhood which  can be called in serious emergency to take one to hospital or doctor or in case of  other emergencies such as theft, injury etc.Their telephone numbers should be known by heart.

PERSONAL GROOMING

Seniors should try to stay active, walk daily without fail,shave daily and be smartly dressed. there is no reason to lament that I am a retired person. Most of us are in a position to maintain  ourselves and in fact maintain  same standard of living which we were used to before retirement. This is the age when we seniors  can wear what we wish to . Now a days cloth wearing has become age less. A person who is smartly dressed, active  etc is unlikely to be looked vulnerable to  attack also. Avoid showing yourself as old, infirm and helpless to any one. Better still, carry small stick with you while walking in the morning /evening. Maintain dignity.

HOW TO GET YOUR WORK DONE IN  OFFICES

All of us have some work with the government or private offices. Some Organisations on paper  have policy of attending SENIORS  on priority basis. In spite of the motto , if ones work is not being attended to, straight away go to top officials of the organisation  personally and complain against harassment to a senior citizen and chances are one’s work will be attended to in priority.

RTI ACT ( RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT 2005 )

RTI Act is most beneficial  for senior persons. In case one’s work is pending in any government and/or Public sector organisation, follow RTI route. Write your RTI  application stating the facts of the case i.e. no reply etc, and attach Rs. ten postal order and send to head of the department through courier or speed post with the request to send reply within 30 days of the receipt of the RTI application . In the application also ask the name of the person/official who is responsible for delay etc and it is very likely one’s work will be done even  before 30 days.

HOW TO DEAL WITH PRESSURE FROM ADULT CHILDREN AND CHILDREN IN LAW

According to a survey done by Hindustan Times, 49 percent of elderly living in Delhi with children separate or having same kitchen are facing some kind of  tension over inheritance or division of property while alive in the form of selling property or/of  transfer ownership and are subjected to various types of abuse, if they refuse.

The other common trigger for abuse is to preference among some to live off their parents or grand parents wealth. In these, seniors are relentlessly pastured   for money to support their children for life style.One has to be careful from these young persons even when they are relatives because experience shows that such persons can kill these senior persons also for money. As per HT Survey, dependency  factor emerges  very strongly in property disputes as most of these persons are dependant on their children . Those who are able to support themselves are also empowered enough to turn around and quash such demands or  to report  to Police Station against such persons even if they  their  are children.

SECURING ELDERS  SAFETY

SENIORS CAN BE AS SECURE AS THEY WISH TO BE . They have to be proactively security conscious . Police can not be with every senior citizen all the time and every time and every where. Most injuries/death are caused by friendly entry in flat/house i.e. friends, relatives, domestic servants, plumbers, electricians, courier etc. Keep domestic keys away from the preying eyes of servants.  Be not trustworthy of everyone and anyone yes anyone. Get police verification of domestic servants particularly full-time. One can also do same thing by sending registered AD/courier  letter to the address given by the domestic servant. If undelivered and letters comes back,  address given is wrong. Avoid employing full-time foreigners. In case of discharge of domestic servant, pay them immediately. Keep dependant contractors and take a list of names and address of working persons.

Take special care while crossing roads –  adage better late than never. Be careful in bathroom. Many senior citizens fall in bathrooms and ultimately,unfortunately, die in hospital. These accidents are avoidable.

Before sleeping at night, check all the doors whether duly secured and closed. In few cases, it has been found that domestic servants have deliberately left side door open for friendly entry of  hostile person for theft, murder etc. Keep one light of one room on. It may minimise the hostile entry in the flat/house.

If helpless and children harassing, take courage and report to Police, though difficult  in India. Take help of AGEWELL, dignity dialogue, SENIOR CITIZENS organisations, even Women Commission or district or State. Remember Police Control No. 100.

If alone and not too old, find a spouse from the matrimonial column of newspaper or from the Internet website , there may again be someone waiting for you even at this age. One may encounter opposition from the children . it is again your life and you have to decide for yourself. Don’t worry for criticism of relatives and neighbourhood because

KUCH TO LOG KAHENGA

LOGO KA KAAM HAI KAHNA

ACTION TO BE TAKEN ON DEATH OF PROPERTY HOLDER

Procure immediately 20 original death certificates from Municipal Corporation/Committee of the city in which dead person was living  ensuring that the name of the dead person is correctly mentioned. It takes about a week.In case bank account is joint one, before informing bank, it is advisable to withdraw money up to certain extent. In the meantime collect all information about the banks, FD,Mutual Funds, Shares etc where name of the dead person is first name and meet the respective managers and tell them of the death of the account holder. Also collect different forms required to be filled for transferring the money to widow and/or any other person and take immediate action to fill forms , affidavits ,etc so that same could be submitted immediately on receipt of death certificates. There is no need to be lethargic in this respect. If any property  of the dead person on rent , immediately tell the tenant with the request to send rent to his successor etc.

In case there is a REGISTERED WILL, problems of transfer of funds are minimised otherwise PSU banks take lot of time to transfer the funds of dead person to legal heirs.

 

ASSET REGISTER

Last but not least, start an ASSET REGISTER which should have information about bank accounts, locker number and bank, shares, mutual funds, property deed and other connected papers, passport number, PF account, PPF Account and bank site, election card No , PAN Number etc and where these documents have been  placed. Otherwise spouse , relatives, spend months/years searching  and listing assets.
Please do not part with your original /photocopies of WILL and any other property  documents in any circumstances because hostile person can destroy or make copies of  same. Original documents should be kept in locker and only photo copies  with you.

PLEASE DONT KEEP ANY ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS IN YOUR OFFICE DRAWER OR WITH YOUR PA. These are more safe in your home.

HELPFUL PERSON

After the death of head of family, widow is woefully lonely . It will be helpful if name of a person is mentioned who would be helpful to the widow to get things sorted out.

FAITH IN GOD

SMALL FAITH TAKES YOU TO HEAVEN

GREAT FAITH BRINGS HEAVEN TO YOU

REMEMBER

YOU CAN WRITE/REWRITE WILL/CHANGE NOMINEE

BUT DON’T FORGET

YOU CAN NOT REVOKE GIFT/RELINQUISHMENT  DEED

DON’T GIVE MONEY, PROPERTY

AND

POWER OF ATTORNEY

TO

TO ANYONE INCLUDING CHILDREN WHEN ALIVE

BETTER LEARN TO SAY SO

Courtesy  RREWA  and thanks to

N AHUJA

MA.,LLB, P.G.Dip (Manchester Business School, , AIPM (London)

Management Consultant & Advocate

Mob: 9312234825

narendra.ahuja@gmail.com

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2 thoughts on “Legal and practical measures to be taken by seniors to safeguard themselves and their property

  1. A million thanks Mr Ahuja for very useful and timely advise to the Seniors.
    May i have your permission to disseminate this to senior citizens for whom i am working?
    Regards and Thanks
    Subhash Bakshi
    9810019165

    • Hi Subhash,
      Please use the information as you see fit. For any further details on the related topic, kindly contact Mr.Ahuja directly. His contact information is displayed on the site.

      Prabhakaran

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