IN THE AFTERLIFE

No, no, this isn’t a preachy sermon about how you should prepare for life after death. Well actually, this is about that except its not your afterlife I’m asking you to prepare for, but for those you leave behind.

Life has no surety. Death, however, is a certainty. We can get any number of insurances and jeewan bimas but nothing can ever prepare us for the final moment of death, not even when science has quantified the days, months, years of our lives. It’s hard to accept that all this skin, sinew, these memories, these people and their love that we have, all that we cherish, will be lost to us. But its harder for those we leave behind because they face the void created by us. And since we live in a material world, material matters do affect families hard. Enter family feuds, frozen bank accounts with no nominees, property wars, divisions of men over matter. Cheap it may sound, but these realities of life after the death of the dearly departed is what families are left to grapple with over and above their grief.

Why not make life a little easier for them? Why not leave them with a Will that clearly defines ownership and management of your assets?

I can see you shaking your head. You’re saying:

  • I don’t have that much property;
  • My spouse knows all that I have;
  • My bank accounts have nominees;
  • My children are too good to fight over the property after I’m gone;
  • I have a portfolio/asset manager who will know what to do, or worse still,
  • Meh, I’m still young and healthy!

All these are valid statements, even the last one, but a Will does not take care of just your monetary assets, it pronounces your wishes on all your assets, yes, even your collection of books or shoes or your kitchen utensils that your bank/portfolio/asset manager will not concern themselves with.

I have my mother-in-law’s example to assert my point. My father-in-law died at the age of 55, at the height of his career, within three months of being diagnosed with a rare form of lung cancer. Needless to say, since it was sudden, his family couldn’t prepare for his departure, emotionally or otherwise. She was left with two years worth of struggles over bank accounts that had no nominees, some properties under his own name with no rights of joint ownership in the name of my mother-in-law, no mutation instructions about immovable assets, no power of attorney (POA) giving her authority to manage the assets, no knowledge of where or how his mutual funds were invested and a vacation notice from the government to vacate the government lodgings they had, all this while her two sons were still in school… and she herself was unemployed. Every time she approached a bank or a government authority she was asked to produce a valid will, a succession certificate, letter of administration or a POA, neither of which she had. So the general law concerning succession took over and we all know how long that takes! She suffered a lot because he would always tell her – there’s still plenty of time left to plan. I’m sure had he been alive he would have never wished such hardships on her.

A few figures for you to consider –

Not long ago, Daksha, an NGO that analyses the performance of the judiciary, published a report that said that out of all criminal and civil matters pending in courts in India, 66% were property related matters and 10% of them were family feuds over property*.

In my personal experience as a lawyer, land matters typically take anywhere between 5-50 years to resolve, sometimes even longer. A person’s next generation could be born and die within that kind of time-span. One family dispute I was involved in took as long as twenty years and that too only in the lower courts, and the parties were still willing to appeal to a higher court. The amount of time and resources such court cases waste is staggering! Besides, in India, if you die intestate i.e. without a will, the laws of succession (in case of Hindus, Parsis and Jains, it is the Hindu Succession Act, 1956. Muslims have personal succession laws and Christians are covered by the Indian Succession Act, 1925) take over and they take a mighty long time to settle property on the rightful heirs.

Executing a will is thus not a futile exercise, especially when your assets are huge. It is a document that centralizes your assets and your wishes regarding the management of those assets in one document while avoiding legal tangles, delays and family feuds. A little planning at your end could ensure that your assets reach those you wished to bequeath them to at the right time.

In India, under the Succession Act, 1925, a will is defined as a legal declaration of the intention of a person with respect to his property, which he desires to take effect after his death.

Anyone of sound mind, not under the influence of intoxicants or under distress, over the age of 21 is capable of executing a will. Even a disabled person. More importantly, in India, it isn’t necessary for the will to be executed on stamp paper or registered even. Sure you can do that, it’s good practice. But even if you write –

“I want all my property to go to my children in equal parts,”

over a piece of paper, signed in your own hand before two or more witnesses, this bit of paper will also be treated as a valid will. But don’t do that. Seriously!

You can change your will as many times as you like in your lifetime, but once you die, your last executed will becomes the final word on your wishes.

A few things to consider before making a will –

Legal Advice: Consult a lawyer if you’re unsure about the legalities of certain types of assets, especially if your assets are many. Drafting (writing) a will is also an important aspect of making a will, one that you may not be well-equipped to do. Hence, consult a lawyer. There are sites online that offer you templates to make wills online and help you with other legalities pertaining to wills.

Avoid Duplication: There can be only one will at any given time. Try to include all your known assets in that single document because eventually only your last Will shall be considered your final will. Having too many copies related to different assets will defeat the purpose of making a Will. You can keep updating your will from time to time but ensure that each time you do so, you clearly mention that the last will stands revoked.

Minority of Beneficiaries: If you wish to bequeath something to minors (below the age of 18), appoint guardians on their behalf for the bequest.

Right Executor: An executor is someone who declares your will to your family and ensures that bequests in the will are properly disposed of. Appoint a person who is considerably younger than you, is capable and trustworthy for the job. Execution (the process of declaration and distribution) of wills is not required to be done before a court of law, but you could request for a Magistrate or a public notary from the authorities**.

Above all declare that you are making the will in sound mind, without duress or coercion, and in full control of your mental capacities.

There are no guarantees that making a Will will necessarily mitigate all legal issues and family problems arising therefrom, but you would have done your part in ensuring that your obligations towards your family have been fulfilled. You wouldn’t want them suffering or fighting amongst each other, I’m sure. Which is why you must invest in some time towards making your will.


** Importance of will and some essential points to be considered while making a will, Jagao Investor, November 14, 2010.

Image Source: RobVanDerMeijden for Pixabay.

 

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DEALING WITH PROBLEMS

Problems are inevitable. Everyone has to go through problems in their lifetime. Sometimes the problems are difficult enough to make us feel giving up what we are doing. We feel nothing is going right and therefore ‘I should quit’. But is that really a solution? 

Well, there is only one solution and that is to never lose hope. However one can avoid problems to some extent. Though one or another problem might keep raising its head, one can do a few things to keep problems away or deal with them. 

So what can do? Well, here are the tips:

  • Working rather than building expectations: Humans can never stop building expectations. Even if they don’t work they will have huge expectations. There is actually no problem with this but the problem arises when our expectations aren’t fulfilled. This can put us into stress, anxiety and may give birth to unexpected problems. So if you want to avoid any problems, work for it. That will surely help you.
  • Doing self-analysis: We know what we are capable of. Before getting into any work, make sure you analyze your capacity. The work that you might think is easy can be tougher and therefore you need to be prepared for that. Self-analysis will help you to avoid problems that you may incur while doing any work.
  • Thinking about the consequences: Whatever work you do, you must think of its consequences. As it has been said, ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’. Therefore one must think before acting.
  • Seeking help when needed: We need help at different stages of life. So one must not keep things to themselves when in need of help. It is good to ask for help. When you seek help, you will be able to tackle some of the problems.
  • Saying ‘no’ when needed: Saying no can be rude but sometimes it is good to say no. Especially when you are unable to fulfill somebody’s need. For example, if you have important work at home and if your colleagues ask you for dinner, then it is better to say a polite no. As you need to be at your home. If not, you will be inviting problems. 

Well to solve problems one needs to think rationally and working accordingly. But if you think the situation is baffling and you can’t divide your attention then it is better to prefer the one with the highest priority. This is indeed the best ways to deal with problems

HOW NOT TO PROCRASTINATE AND DEAL WITH TIME

black and white photo of clocks
Photo by Andrey Grushnikov on Pexels.com

Strengths – We all are born with one or the other strength- all we need to do is discover it and nurture it for your betterment.

In my childhood, I was the laziest person I could say. People underestimated my own strengths which they neglected. When I started my job, again it was crucial for me to manage my time to handle everything from a job to home. Time swept by and it was time for much more responsibilities. This is when I realized I need to find time for many more things to do. With two kids, I was literally hanging on the minute hand of the clock to manage my time. At times I even wondered if I could grab much more time – but 24hours remained just 24 hours with no more or no less.

It was time – that I wanted to manage and yes I found ways to handle it in a much more effective way.  Here I am sharing with you the tips that have worked out and helping me do my things correctly.

  1. Do not panic: Most of us tend to lose time, panic a lot. Panicking is not the key to managing. Hence it is important not to panic even when we are unable to manage. Usually the times I ended up panicking, I lost track of everything I was doing and had to begin everything from scratch.
  2. Be Prepared: As the famous saying “Time and tide wait for no man ” – It is important to engrain in our thoughts that nothing waits for us. Hence it is important to harness ourselves before the tide arrives. Like if you are planning to cook something in the morning for kids lunch boxes, pre-plan everything like cutting vegetables or grating or keeping things ready that can save your time. Mornings can be quite tricky at times and trust me I have gone through all the worst part before I arrived at the good one.
  3. Let go:  Keep in mind that you cannot control time. Learn to flow with it, which is the best way to handle time. At times we might lose the grip of it, then learn to let it go. One way you won’t repent over the loss of that time and then get back to your tasks or routine.
  4. Plan Plan and Plan: This is the only thing that helps you manage your time. Like usually when it is Sunday, I can always choose to take a rest and chill, but most of the time I choose to plan my things for the week like preparing the batter for the whole week, that will make my breakfast planning instant- otherwise I end up browsing quick recipes. Even all the washing clothes and arranging the week’s uniforms for my kids are also planned ahead. I guess most parents do it.
  5. Be an early person: Nothing keeps you organized than being early, which gives you plenty of options to change your plans. Sometimes, I plan things and at times, I am left with no option to do it but try something else in its place. In such cases to buy time, it is important that we are quite ahead of the time.
  6. Multitasking: This is something that I feel buys me much more time to relax. Whenever I am in the kitchen cooking, I put the clothes to wash in the machine and once I am done with my kitchen work, I will be done with washing too. In this way, I get much more time to spend with my family or find some “Me -time “. It might not be easy to multi-task at times, but yes it’s worth trying. 
  7. Take rest, when exhausted: A break is much more needed for anyone. Do not strain yourself, but ensure you do things correctly. Most of us take up all the things together and then finally end up doing nothing. Hence it is important to find time and take proper breaks at regular intervals.

Tips might not work all the time, but there is always a way to nurture it into your lifestyle. I included these in my lifestyle and customized them according to my needs. All this comes with lots of patience and practice. It might not look easy at first, but gradually we become accustomed to it as a habit.

Try not to procrastinate on your tasks, which will lead you to deal with a bulk of it later.

So these are some tips, o f a busy working mother, of two kids, who have to manage time like a pro. I might not be a pro, but I do my best to be one.

So folks – Never lose hope, just gear on!!!

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR TEENAGER

It has been long said that teenage is a phase of stress and turmoil. Skip a few generations back. When one transitioned from childhood into adolescence and then into adulthood, was scarcely demarcated. It just happened! That’s all that was known. Also, with lack of technological advancements and a dearth of understanding into the human psyche at various phases, there wasn’t any specific attention devoted to different stages of development, except for infancy.

However, the situation is different today. Each individual is more aware of his/her rights, self-esteem and choices. Speaking of today’s teenagers – they are way smarter and well-informed than many of us can think of.

So then, how do parents and caregivers handle teenagers?

1. Your teen may be better informed, but you remain the boss. Do not pass on control into your teen’s hands. How then should you retain control? While parents need to encourage their teens to participate in important decisions involving their own lives and that of the family, they need to reserve the final word for themselves. This is how your teenager would learn to have a say while accepting parental authority. Also, make sure that parents voice the same tone before teens, irrespective of their differences so that your smart teen doesn’t get the space to play games.

2. Do not give in to emotional blackmailing. This is something that needs to be nipped in the bud at childhood, when your child throws tantrums and makes you dance to his/her music. However, teenage emotional blackmailing is a bit different. That’s because teens don’t simply sulk when things are not done their way. They can resort to quite disturbing tactics – like refusing to eat for days together, refusing to go to school/college, getting into disruptive activities with friends, playing ear-blasting music, threatening to commit suicide, and the like. While all these are alarming, none of these should bring you down to your knees. Most importantly, do not lose your emotional balance. Take care that you do not slip into bouts of depression, panic attacks or spells of anxiety, because some teens can be quite a handful and drive you crazy!

3. Always keep communication lines open. Teenagers do not run to parents to get their shirts buttoned or to get their shoe laces tied or to get their tears wiped after hurting their elbows at play, as they did as children. With age and development, they become self-reliant in many aspects of their lives. This is something parents need to accept. However, this does not mean that it’s time for parents to start fading away from the lives of their children. Your children remain your children even when they go on to have children of their own. What is to be understood is that, you need to give your teen the space s/he needs and yet be open for all types of conversations at all times. Do not get antagonistic if your teen shares with you about a boyfriend or girlfriend or confesses a blunder that s/he has committed or asks you questions about sex. If you do so, you will shut a doorway into your teen’s life and cause outsiders to actively intrude in. Respond wisely and calmly.

4. Be role models. While no one is and can be perfect while in this mortal life, it is of utmost importance that parents model a family that they would want their teen to have in future. If your teen sees you drink, then your endless sermons on ‘Don’t drink’ would serve no purpose. If your teenage boy sees his father speaking roughly to his mother or resorting to physical abuse, these traits get unconsciously implanted into his psyche and are likely to surface in later years when he gets married. If your teenage girl sees her mother spending money thoughtlessly, she doesn’t learn to manage money wisely. Be the person that you want your teen to be in thoughts, speech and action. 

5. Commit your teenager into God’s care. Though I am writing this point at the last, I won’t frame it as ‘last but not the least’. Rather, I would put it as ‘first and foremost’. Yes, first and foremost put your teen into God’s hands daily. You cannot be with your teen everywhere all the time. You cannot be a nagging parent prescribing dos and don’ts always. Your teen will commit his/her share of mistakes and will have to face certain consequences which you may find hard to bear. But then, experience is a strong teacher! You need to permit your teen to develop a certain sense of independence and responsibility as s/he grows. You need to have your teen be a person of good character, sound personality and wise choices. And so, you need to commit your teen into the hands of Him who has given him/her life and breath. God alone can mould people from the inside out. He is more concerned about your teen than you. So, each moment commit your teen into God’s hands – for protection, for health, for strength to resist temptations, for studies and career and for prudent choices. You’ll see how He would work wonders!

Accept the fact that your teen is not like you and may not necessarily become like you. S/he is an individual in his/her own right. Maybe you transitioned smoothly across life’s varying phases, while your teen wrecks havoc each day. Look for reasons, but do not blame yourself without reason. Look for ways to manoeuvre yourself and your teen wisely while keeping your calm.

While handling each teenager requires specific strategies that may be case-specific, what I have enlisted in this article entails certain general points that apply to all teens. An equation to sum up: HANDLING TEENAGERS = LOVE + DISCIPLINE + REASONING

Hope this ‘how-to’ article comes of help to parents in this ‘how-to’ week in Candles Online!

LAUGHING AWAY IN SICKNESS…

The week’s topic made me think a lot about my own expertise which I can share with the whole world. But I could not think of anything until I asked my wife about my own skills. And she gave me her inputs which I will stamp it as my strengths and share with you.

She said, “You can encourage and motivate people. The mental support you give someone who is vulnerable is very appreciable. You are very calm during a stressful and difficult time. You can take things very lightly when life is tough or when people says hurtful things.”

She was right partially. But when she said, “You are very calm during a stressful and difficult time”, I just pondered about it, trying to validate it. People usually give tips on things they are expert in or have been doing it almost all their lives… I wondered, what is that one thing that I am doing all this time in my life!

Bingo!!!

I have been tackling my health issues since my birth. I am definitely an expert handling my health condition on which I can give my expert ideas or tips to those who have family members suffering from prolonged sicknesses or to the persons concerned.

  1. Do what you should do: I was very particular in taking my medicines and what I should do to keep my health on track. It is evident that having such serious health issues people like us can’t afford to be indisciplined. So leading fairly a disciplined life is always better to stay risk-free.
  2. Stay happy and jovial: Staying happy always good for health and I never failed to smile and make others smile even when I am seriously sick. I remember, once I posted a funny video of myself in our Candles Online – WhatsApp group while I was lying on the hospital bed. That brought joy to everyone and it pleased me a lot, making me lighter to carry my burden. Make fun of yourself when you go through difficult times. Trust me, that will bring joy and strength in the minds of people around you whether they are known or unknown to you.
  3. Engage & Entertain yourself: This is something very essential. So many times after I do everything that I can do, I feel bored and extremely depressed. A sick person with no one around to talk and to play with is a dreadful curse. I had gone through it. But once I found means to entertain myself, I engage myself with all of them to keep away my boredom far.
  4. Keep other’s problems above yours: Being an empath, I always tend to get lost in others. I keep getting closer and closer to people, trying to figure out how they struggle in their respective lives and how they can get little comfort. I try to make them feel as comfortable as possible sharing their hearts with me. Trust me, this takes away a lot of my own heartache and pain giving me peace at my heart, letting me know that I could also be of some use. 
  5. Take everything to the Lord in prayer: And lastly, I would suggest all of you, to take every pain to the Father in heaven by praying to Him.  The song, “What a friend we have in Jesus” comes to my mind where one of its stanzas goes like this –

“Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

I never forget to pray to my Saviour, my God ever. I might not be very disciplined in praying to God, but I never stop praying to Him at any cost, in any manner. And as He had promised, He never left me alone to suffer but have given me strength at every stage of my life. 

Friends! Never be dismayed! Accept the situation you are in and enjoy it by creatively adopting a specific survival strategy to keep yourself going. And never forget to look to God in prayer.

Stay Blessed!