Monday, July 4

Based on true stories series: Single child dilemma

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THE following story is based on an actual series of events with some names and circumstances fictionalised and any similarity to the name, character or history of any person is entirely coincidental and unintentional.

“It was like robbery!” a distraught Mama Yan said in a high tone as she opened the door for Mandy.

“They were in uniform and they just barged in,” she continued. “One of them held up a letter and others just came in and started to take the TV and other items.

“And Sharon, she, she…,” her mouth quivered as she looked towards the lone figure lying on the bed in the living room. “Sharon, she tried to get up as if to stop the men and she fell.”

Mama Yan related that at that moment, everything stopped.

A more elderly among the men just shouted “Jangan!”, reached forward and with a few others, helped carried Sharon back to the bed.

“I just froze and what happened next was a blur. All I can recall now was the elderly officer coming to me, saying something like “…datang pejabat untuk selesai. Kita tidak akan ambil apa-apa.”

Mandy went towards Sharon and in a soft tone said: “Are you alright? Don’t worry, I’ll sort things out…”

She then turned to Mama Yan and pacified her, assuring her that she would take care of things. Mandy seemed to have figured out what the ‘raid’ was all about and asked for the notice the men left behind.

This incident stemming from failure to settle outstanding payments of property assessment fees is the latest of episodes of non-payment of bills, the last being the disconnection of electricity supply that left the family in darkness just two weeks back.

Mandy pitied Mama Yan, who was a sharp contrast from what she used to be – a happy contented mother, always beaming with pride that her Sharon, who in her late 30s, was at the prime of her career, having climbed the corporate ladder to be marketing director in an MNC.

Sharon was Mama Yan’s pride and joy as a daughter. Despite being busy, often home late and out to office early, she had never failed to make sure that her mama and wheel chair-bound Pa were well cared for.

They never had to worry about finances. Sharon was that ever responsible, dependable, and caring daughter!

That was until one late afternoon six months ago. A call came in from Sharon’s colleague that she had blacked out and she was being rushed to the hospital.

Later, the doctor broke the news to Mama Yan that Sharon had a stroke and the left side of her body was paralysed.

Mama Yan’s heart shattered in pieces when she finally got to see Sharon. Tears streamed from Sharon’s eyes.

Tried as Sharon could, no words came out from her mouth. Her frustration could only be seen from her eyes.

Tears welled up too in Mama Yan.

Sharon, who always had things in control, was lying there helpless.

The pain of seeing the suffering that Sharon was undergoing was after a while replaced by thoughts racing through her mind about Sharon’s future and what would be in store for the family.

Sharon had taken care of the family well, providing for their financial needs.

The live-in maid was a great help in attending to Sharon’s Pa, who even though recovering for the stroke, needed help in movement.

Six months have passed. There are no indications how long more Sharon would be bed-ridden.

Weighed down by worries of mounting expenses and depleting savings, how to cope with two stroke patients, and a load of unexpected problems, Mandy was the only family friend that Yan could turn to.

Mandy, however, could only provide help in sorting out certain problems like dealing with municipalities and local government departments.

What was of greater concern was that their one-time solid financial pillar had crumbled. Yan has never felt so hapless.

Mama, amidst tears, said to Mandy: “I have no choice but to see Yong and beg him for financial help now. He is the brother-in-law that I don’t really like but I have no choice.”

Considering that Sharon had built a successful career and if she has got down to writing a Will to take care of her dependent family, her parents would not be in dire straits if their financial pillar passed on.

However, in this instance, her plans under the Will could not be effected as she is still alive, but incapacitated.

Had she set up a Trust, Sharon would have planned well for such an eventuality if not for this cruel twist of fate.

She could have placed certain assets she had accumulated in the trust of her appointed licensed trust company.

In the trust deed or instructions spelled out by the settlor (person setting up the Trust), she could have instructed the amount, frequency of payment for the living expenses of the family, as well as medical expenses, which in the case of Sharon’s family could be substantial as it would be for both her father and her.

Sharon could have even directed the trustee on how the monies in the trust fund should be invested until her death, after which she could set conditions as to what and how to invest.

Such planning will ensure that income is generated while she is incapacitated to meet living and medical expenses.

The family’s financial pillar would still have been intact in this case as Sharon’s ability to financially provide for her dependent parents has been transferred to a reliable trustee.

While the trustee can be an individual, a trust company is recommended as the latter will exist in perpetuity and has experienced and skilled staff with the time and resources on hand to administer the Trust.