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Should children support their parents financially?

03 March 2014, 08:04

In an ideal world, the average couple fall in love, marry and produce planned children.

Both mom and dad are employed and they do the right thing.  They have education policies in place, a pension fund, retirement annuities and investments.

The cycle of life continues.  The parents give their children their roots and then their wings.  The children grow up, graduate, fall in love and marry, produce children and have gainful employment or businesses.

After forty years of faithful service, and with minimal salary increases, of which most covered additional income tax, medical aid, pension fund and cost of living increases, the parents look forward to a seemingly comfortable retirement.

Although their pension, annuities and investments after tax, may be far less than they expected, they vow to live off the interest with the wish to leave their children a legacy.

So often the retirement funds they believe they meticulously planned for may now only cover them for the next ten years and not the next twenty, should they live to the age of 80 years or more.

The parents also have to source their own medical aid which is exorbitant especially for chronic medication and unforeseen hospital stays.

They may also have to replace their car, maintain their property and pay for medical shortfalls.  The interest earned, especially if the rate drops, no longer covers monthly and annual rising living costs which includes food, petrol, electricity, water, rates and taxes.

The parents previous happy plans of travel, dining out and going to the cinema occasionally are now just a dream.

They may have their pride and no desire to ask their children to support them financially.  They would never use the 'after all we've sacrificed for you' lament, although their children may 'borrow' money from them, as they did not realise that life is so expensive.  Sometimes, these children have no intention of paying the money back.

In an extreme case, when I was employed in the Home Loans department at a bank, a Director, yes, his name was at the bottom of the letterhead, convinced his pensioner parents to take out a second bond on their property.  This was paid into his account and he omitted to pay the bond.  I was unaware of the situation until I contacted the parents and they were shattered and so afraid of losing their home.  At their age they did not need this.

Although my children have said they would support me financially should the need arise, as a parent, only in my worst nightmares, would I ask.

But, should I live for another twenty to thirty years, I really can't say.

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