Sunday, April 12, 2009


“Milk King fights sons for power”. Yet another family feud has made the headlines, and invariably it involves family members fighting over property and inheritance, or as in the case of the ‘Milk King’, squabbling over control of the family business empire. For every case that made the headlines, there are probably tens of thousands more that don’t appear on the media radar because of the insignificant amounts involved.

When it comes to money and property, children can turn against parents, and siblings against one another. Bad blood is spilled, and the family name is raked through the mud in court. So, to avoid a potential family meltdown, here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Never sign over the title deeds of your house to your family members while you are still living in it. I know of cases where parents have been kicked out of their own home by their adult children. In some instances, the children sold off the family house to settle their debts or to invest in a business venture, thus forcing their parents to live in rented premises. You can always bequeath the property to them in your will. They just have to learn to be patient.

2. Do not sell your house to raise money for your adult children’s business ventures or your grandchildren’s education. It is not your responsibility. The same applies to your savings in the EPF, your investments in mutual funds, shares, etc. Do not sign these over to your family members prematurely. You need to keep all your monies intact. They make up your retirement funds. If your health is good, you may need those funds to keep you going for the next 20 years. If your health is less than good, those funds will help you cover medical expenses. We need to have at least RM1 million in cash reserves by the time we retire at 55 if we are to maintain our current lifestyle for the next 20 years.

If we don’t have this amount in our retirement funds, all the more we must have property that we can sell off or mortgage if the need arises. So back to my point – hang on to your property. Your life depends on it – literally.

Enough said.

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