Snow­birds: Con­sider fi­nan­cial check­list be­fore tak­ing flight

South Shore Breaker - - Games - KEVIN DOREY FI­NAN­CIAL FO­CUS [email protected]­ward­jones.com

Come Jan­uary, many “snow­birds” will be head­ing south. If you plan to es­cape Canada for the win­ter, be cer­tain your fi­nan­cial life is in or­der be­fore you go.

There are two crit­i­cal el­e­ments to en­sur­ing you’ll be in good fi­nan­cial shape: Make sure your af­fairs at home can be man­aged in your ab­sence, and ar­range ac­cess to cash and fi­nan­cial ser­vices while you’re away.

Elec­tronic bank­ing and in­vest­ing — whether through au­to­mated teller ma­chines (ATMS), the In­ter­net or tele­phone — make all of this eas­ier than ever. But you still need to pre­pare. Here’s a check­list to get started:

Ar­range bill pay­ments

Take in­ven­tory of bills that must to be paid while you’re gone. Among oth­ers, these in­clude credit cards, loans, in­come and prop­erty taxes and mem­ber­ship dues and sub­scrip­tions. Make sure you can pay them while out­side the coun­try, or ar­range for some­one to take care of them for you. In­ter­net bank­ing is a great way to keep track of ex­penses and bill pay­ments. And don’t for­get un­ex­pected bills that may show up in your mail­box.

En­sure ac­cess to cash

If you’re win­ter­ing in the U.S. or an­other coun­try with easy ac­cess to in­ter­na­tional net­works through ATMS, a bank card may be all you need to get cash. But take a backup in case your card gets lost. If you spend time in the U.S., you can open a U.S. dol­lar ac­count at a Cana­dian fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that will al­low you to write cheques. In fact, you may want to con­sider hold­ing U.S. dol­lar in­vest­ments that can pro­vide you with in­come in U.S. dol­lars while you’re there.

En­sure ac­cess to fi­nan­cial ac­counts You might need to make in­vest­ment or bank­ing trans­ac­tions while you’re away, or mon­i­tor ac­counts. If you’ll have In­ter­net ac­cess, make sure you’re reg­is­tered for on­line fi­nan­cial ser­vices, or use au­to­mated tele­phone ser­vices. If elec­tronic ac­cess isn’t pos­si­ble, make other ar­range­ments with your fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions or have some­one man­age your af­fairs.

Put in­vest­ments in or­der

Meet with your fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor to de­ter­mine whether your port­fo­lio is in good shape. And make ar­range­ments for in­vest­ments that will ma­ture while you’re away, such as Guar­an­teed In­vest­ment Cer­tifi­cates (GICS), term de­posits and bonds. Also, be sure your ad­vi­sor knows how to con­tact you.

Cover your le­gal bases –

Your pow­ers of at­tor­ney should be up to date in case some­thing hap­pens to pre­vent you from man­ag­ing your af­fairs. Have a cur­rent will in place, and let some­one know where your le­gal doc­u­ments are kept. Also, be aware that depend­ing on how long you have stayed in the U.S., you may be con­sid­ered a res­i­dent of the U.S. for in­come tax pur­poses. Be­fore you leave, check with a cross-bor­der spe­cial­ist to con­firm your tax sta­tus.

Buy health in­sur­ance

When you’re out of the coun­try, med­i­cal in­sur­ance is a must. With­out proper cov­er­age, your fi­nan­cial life could be thrown into tur­moil if you be­come ill or are the vic­tim of an ac­ci­dent. Even a brief ill­ness in a for­eign coun­try can put you deep in debt if you don’t have ad­e­quate in­sur­ance. The older you get, the more com­plex and costly in­sur­ance can be, so en­sure your needs are be­ing met with the pol­icy you se­lect.

With your fi­nan­cial af­fairs in or­der, you can head south and en­joy a re­lax­ing win­ter.

123RF

Check those fi­nances be­fore fly­ing.

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