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Tuesday, September 29

Don't Let People Take You For A Ride

The death of a family member is always the cruellest of all misfortunes. It becomes more cruel when the person snatched away is the husband of a young woman. The picture couln't be more sordid if the deceased leaves behind young issues. Whatever the circumstances they are always unfortunate.

Even in the present changed scenario, parent having got their daughter married off, wash their hand of her. Apart from the customary visits to the parents' house, if she is going through a rough matrimonial patch her parents rarely counsel a girl. They consider it unwise to interfere in the other's family even when their own daughter is married into that family. It is largely due to this lack of support from the parents that a girl starts to compromise beyond the limits of decency.

Kelly has something to say about it. They are two daughters-in-law in the family. Before her brother-in-law's marriage she was the pampered one. Everyone showered love and respect on her. Things changed tremendously after her brother-in-law's marriage. His wife belonged to a local family and was regularly frequented by her family members at her in-laws' place. Gifts on various occasions followed. Eventually, comparisons between the two daughters-in-law were made. There was no support to Kelly from her parents. They rarely visited and definitely gifts were never changing hands. With the passage of time, the situation worsened. She is ignored by her in-laws. Low in esteem and confidence, she is doing nothing but compromising.

Such treatment was rendered to a woman who has her husband beside her. Imagine the treatment rendered to women who have lost their husbands. Will those women get their share of love, respect, share in property, roof over their and their children's heads? The answer is very believable and real "no."

A LIVING TESTIMONY

Heather, one of my aunts, is a living testimony to such treatment by in-laws. She was widowed at a young age, in an unfriendly environment and with two young kids! Her late husband's family made her sign a number of legal papers. She didn't even know what they were. Vulnerable as she was under the circumstances, she did what she was told to do. By the time she understood what was going on, it was too late. Her mother was dead and her father refused to support her in opposing the in-laws. The poor woman succumbed to the circumstances. She does regret it though. She says, "My kids had to struggle so much in life just because I let myself be robbed by the in-laws. Their father left so much for them. I just wish I was stronger at that time."

How true! Had she been more in control of her loss and grief, things wouldn't have been tough for her and her children. Her being alone was the prime reason for this fate. Had she got Some support from her father, she could have voiced her doubts to her in-laws. Girls at their parents' house are raised in a protective, pampered environment. They are not taught to fight their battles alone. As a result of this they don't know what to do if an adverse situation arises.

After 24 years another tragedy has taken place in my family. Another aunt is widowed. Uncle died in a road accident. They have two teenage sons. The kids are neither too young to be ignorant about what happened nor big enough to shoulder all the responsibilities without some help and guidance. All through the last rites of uncle, my aunt's brother and sister-in-law stayed with her. Even when all the ceremonies were over, they stayed back to settle things with her in-laws. They were there for more than a week to lend support to his sister. There are a number of things mostly unpleasant - that a girl hides from her parents but under such circumstances all the facts come out in the open, so somebody has to be there for her.

HOLD YOURSELF TOGETHER

No matter how tough the grief is, a woman should hold herself together for her sake and for the sake of her children. It could be very unpleasant and inhuman to put yourself in a situation like this just when your life partner has left you. But the fact remains - strike while the iron is hot. It's a now or never situation for you. The woman is vulnerable and drowned in sorrow, that's when the in-laws make their first move. In good faith, she does whatever is asked of her and becomes duped. She and her children are cheated out of their share of income, property and other assets.

In our society, love and care are given to a woman and her children largely because of her husband. History and many day-today examples are proof of this. If no concern is shown to a woman by her in-laws, it is only because she is their son's wife. There is hardly any individual relationship involved here. So, once their son is not alive any longer, they find no reason to be fair and reasonable to his wife. Even when the in-laws are loving and caring types, the equation changes drastically after their son's demise. His family is more of a burden than a responsibility. Truth is often bitter but that's how it is.

A woman should do the following in case of such a mishap.

Gather her own family members:
Numbers do make a difference. They are intimidating if nothing more. Under pressure, people often budge. It is easier to talk about you and your children's future prospects immediately after the demise since your family and relatives come to visit you and are concerned. Once this opportunity is lost, it becomes difficult to assemble the relatives and broach the subject with objectivity. Time lost is opportunity lost. With the passage of time, even your parents come to terms with what has happened and leave you and your kids to the mercy of your in-laws and destiny. The real concern about how you are going to chalk out a secure future for yourself and your kids goes with time.

Don't sign any document:
People stoop to any number of tricks or lies to usurp your legal share of property and earnings under such circumstances. Don't give in to any threat or pressure. Just keep one thing in mind as long as you resist the pressure, your kids' future is secure. Don't sign any paper or document even if you are told it's very urgent and important.

Get in touch with a lawyer:
Try to find out a decent and trustworthy lawyer through a friend or relative. Hire his services for assessing your deceased husband's estate and financial status. Avoid the family lawyer as he will try to favour your in-laws' intentions. After understanding everything, you can buy some time and decide on a course of action. Any action in haste can only be regretted for the rest of your life. Be patient while making decisions that can make or mar your future.

Smart investments to generate regular income:
A regular source of income is a requisite for your kids, upbringing. Various options are available and a professional can help you out with it. But don't venture into speculative investments as it can endanger the principal amount. Also, never lend money to friends or relatives even when they "assure" a lucrative rate of interest. Go for a conventional investment that doesn't promise big returns but your money will be safe.

Buy policies for your children:
You can buy some risk-covering policies for your children. They can prove to be a big help at the time of their education and marriage. You can choose one that will suit you. Money-back policies prove to be quite handy.

Dispose of the disputed or co-owned property:
It is always wise to dispose of any property owned by your late husband that was either disputed or co-owned by other relatives of your husband. You can offer your share to the co-owners at a price that they find hard to turn down or to a third party who is ready to buy your share despite the dispute.

In case of rental property, if it is clear that evacuation is not possible, try to dispose of it. The money thus generated can be invested in some other form to increase it, but keeping disputed properties can only add to your worries. Any civil litigation can go on for decades and, when you have the responsibility of bringing up your kids, you must stay well clear of any kind of legal messes. It not only drains one emotionally and physically but financially also. -Arvind786

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