Gathered around the dining table, we were having a late breakfast on a downcast Sunday. I was browsing through the newspaper filled with sorry tales of the havoc the incessant rains had wreaked on Bangalore when I came across an article on why Indians do not contribute much to charity. It was a comparison on how wealth is generally not given away to worthy causes and rather accrued to be passed on to the kids.

 

It was an interesting article, and a topic that I was discussed with the family. The kids and the husband agreed that yes, we, in fact prefer to not give away our wealth. It could be a cultural phenomenon and also related to tax implications too.Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have pledged 99% of their wealth their charity and so has Warren Buffett. Bill and Melinda Gates are also pledging most of their wealth to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that works for social causes. There are only a handful of people (billionaires in India) that have pledged any part of their wealth to worthy causes while many in the West give away most of their wealth. I am talking of billionaires here, but I can very easily see the example of this all around us.

We in India stay tied to our kids even when they are well in their 40s or 50s. Parents are expected to leave behind an inheritance for their children whether real estate, jewellery or cash. I know of progeny who consider it their God given right to have a stake in their parents’ property. Some of them do not stop at ill-treatment if they don’t get what they think is their due. This when many adult children continue to live with their parents even after their marriage and when their parents have not only financed their education, higher education, rent, houses and even their weddings.

In the same vein, as our parents age and lose one spouse, we constantly worry about them. The concept of retirement homes or communities is still not prevalent in India. Most of us prefer to move our ailing parent in with us and provide them the care they need in their twilight years, not to mention foot their expensive medical and caregiving bills.

Dynasties seem to be the order of the day in our families. Businesses often have the kids of CEOs as bosses or Board members irrespective of merit. Lawyers and Doctors pass on flourishing practices to their children. And of course politicians pave the way for their children (very often incompetent ones like RaGa). Thus, it is no surprise that all wealth and goodwill is often meant to stay in the family.

Is it any surprise then that some of these new kids on the block are brash, irresponsible and entitled? After all, do they have to really earn their living or worry about working hard? Do they even understand the value of earning every penny?Are the parents to blame in how they turn out?

I really liked this quote from Buffett

I want to give my kids just enough so that they feel that they can do anything, but not so much… Click To Tweet

Of course, lesser mortals like us don’t have so much wealth to give away, yet I think this is food for thought.

Don’t you think it is time for all of us to think in this direction. Let’s enable our kids to realize their potential and make the best of it. Let’s initiate them to work for the life and lifestyle they wish to have in the future. Let us give them wings by holding back.

Let us give our kids wings by holding back. Click To Tweet

What do you feel?

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17 Thoughts on “Parents, Children and Inheritance

  1. Interesting subject. I always believe in the dictum that we grew up by, ‘live within your means.’ As a parent I have tried to tell Gy the same thing too, mostly by action. So we make them understand the value of money by helping them earn it.

    At the same time, I think the parent-child dynamic matters a big deal in these situations. My parents and I are in the space where yes, they funded my wedding, but I value everything they did for me. Whether the next generation will choose to do it or not will again depend on the relationship between parents and children. As long as we don’t take advantage of the situation and enjoy a healthy equation with our parents, that helps, in my opinion.

    By the way that reference to ailing parents is so true, especially in the context of ‘Being Mortal’ that I am almost done reading. It’s also a humbling reminder that we have a limited time on earth and how we live it is up to us, be it in the case of earning/spending money or in our actions towards others.

  2. I think one of the factors why middle class families atleast do not give away their hard earned wealth to charity is to save for a rainy day. For health complications in the old age or something of the likes. But yes, it irks me when kids think they are entitled to their parents’ property and money. And it irks me even more when grown up kids spend their parents money even after starting to earn themselves.

  3. An interesting but tricky debate. While I actively do charity, I am not keen on donating my wealth away. I’ll definitely leave everything my children. Indians by nature are greedy and most donations are diluted by the time they reach the bottom. I have closely worked on GoI’s development projects like SSA. The mid day meals are pathetic, welfare does not reach the needy even if international organisations are working on it. I know a Kannadiga elderly childless widow in New Delhi who had tied up with some peetham to donate her 2BHK flat in Janakpuri after her passing. But, members of the peetham started harassing her to write it off in their name even before she passed away. It really doesn’t work in India.

  4. Though provoking article, Rachna. Loved the quote at the end very much.

  5. The points are made in an articulate fashion and something we need to debate about. There is a need for a shift in our attitudes where homes should provide a dignified life to parents and offer everything to make them independent, games, social interactions or teaching skills and for that matter elocution contest. They can also be encouraged to start up a small business. I think independence matters to both parents and children. Very well pointed out, Rachna.

  6. Oh, I have a lot to say on this topic. In-fact I had a post planned around this topic too.

    To start with, yes, parents to give their children the basics. They should give them enough so that they can do something with that. That’s about it.

    I’ve seen siblings fighting like cats and dogs for the family inheritance. I still remember when my grand-mom had passes away and all that some of my uncles and aunts were concerned about was who gets the house? I hated humanity at that very instant. Later, all her children including my dad got into numerous arguments and accusations regarding this piece of property. It was so cheap, I have no words to tell it.

    Parents toil their whole life, take care of the children and make something for themselves so that they can live the rest of their lives peacefully. But the way children hover over them like vultures waiting for a piece of the cake is outright disgusting. Like they say, when it comes to money, no relationship holds good.

    In my opinion, the concept of inheritance should become void. On the death of the person, the property should just go to charity decided by someone. No immediate relative should have the right to stake claim on it. If you want luxury, make it yourself. Don’t expect others to leave it for you.

    As I type this I can think of at least 2 scenarios in mind, where people are waiting for their parents to kick the bucket and enhance their bank accounts. It is so sad and inhumane, I can’t begin to say.

    Sorry for the really long comment, but I just had a lot to say.

  7. Agree with you. While we may believe in charity work, we do not pledge our wealth to charities. We try to save it for old age/rainy days etc.
    Inheritance is a big thing. There are so many families in our circle of family and friends who have big disputes over property. Brothers are ready to kill each other. It’s really sad. As you mentioned, we must educate and empower our kids and let them chart their own life and destiny!

  8. This is pretty normal in all Indian homes – that parents leave their inheritance to their children. We never really gave it a thought, never built our lives around it or looked upon it as our due. It is their money to do with as they please. Should they want to give it away to anyone, it is their wish. And that’s how we hope it will be with our children. Much of this stems from the fact that Indians were used to living in a joint family where most of the belongings/property/wealth is for everyone. But things are changing, slowly.

    Rachna, that first Click to Tweet quote is incomplete. Can’t read all of it.

  9. Very logical analysis has been made in the post, the way most of the Indians(mostly middle class) treat their children need a change,now a days the young boys and girls have become very much career conscious and being self dependent very quick but above all the financial condition of our country and the condition of salary makes them feel insecure every time.
    Social consciousness and sense also matters….above all its about one’s psychology that reflects in their activities but its also true that thoughts generates from practical life also.

  10. Some valid thoughts here!

  11. This was really interesting to read Rachna! Really interesting. I always find it unpalatable where there is an expectation of inheritance. Having seen my own parents struggle for much of their lives and then just when they were able to start doing the things comfortably, my father died very young. We wanted them to enjoy and spend all that they had because they had worked so very hard for it. I think the inheritance is a nice to have but should never be seen as a rite of passage. In the same way that we made our own way, we will encourage our daughter to do the same. Any extras are a bonus. Great post and thanks for joining with #ttb

    • Thanks, Nicola. I agree with your thoughts. I would want my parents to enjoy the money they have earned with a lot of hard work. Besides kids must not treat inheritance as a given. As long as that is clear, there is no harm in passing on something to the children if that is what the parents desire. Thank you for visiting.

  12. I was very interested to read this Rachna. As you point out, the dynamics of family relationships are different in many Western countries and many children move a long way away from their parents. There is also the recent ‘bank of Mum and Dad’ concept where parents are now providing financial support to young adult children a lot longer than they used to so things are changing in the UK. I am happy to provide some support to my kids but there will definitely be a limit! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #TweensTeensBeyond

  13. I believe a lot of customs and traditions are carried through generations without much thought. I am not sure what the right or wrong way is, it is possibly different for different people.

    We personally do a little charity every year, and try to incorporate it in our every day life, but we still do plan to leave the most of our life’s work to our kids as well.

    Though I hope that the way we live, and how we encourage charity, and emphasize on helping out the less fortunate – will become a way of life with them too. One can hope..
    Shantala recently posted…Part Star Part Dust by L. M. Valiram – Book ReviewMy Profile

  14. Rachna this is such a thought provoking article. My parents have just downsized and visiting them for the first time this week in their new home we discussed the whole “what happens next thing”. In the UK I think it is very much a case of using the money you have earnt to look after yourself first rather than ensuring your children have something and I know with my own parents they were concerned about the next stage and having enough to pay for a care home if needs be. My sister and I don’t live near my parents and our homes are unsuitable for them so I think their priority is to ensure they have the necessary funds to look after themselves in an area where they want to be. It is a headache for sure! #TweensTeensBeyond ps sorry I am late commenting but have been away and am just catching up. x

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