If your winter sojourn is taking you south this year, here’s to great times in great places with great friends! And don’t forget your sunblock … especially your financial sunblock! Use it liberally to avoid the financial pain that could otherwise become an unwanted guest during your vacation. Here’s a sample of effective financial precautions that will help keep your vacation pain-free.
Get adequate out-of-country medical insurance before leaving Canada Provincial health plans are never enough to cover U.S. medical costs. Make sure your coverage is adequate -- and remember that staying away longer than three months could jeopardize your provincial health coverage.
Update your Will and Power of Attorney This is especially important if you own U.S. property. Death in a foreign country complicates estate issues. Be sure your relatives and executor know where to find your will. Perhaps name a trusted person as your Power of Attorney to manage your domestic finances while you’re away. You should have a lawyer in the U.S. review your will and POA to see if adequately deals with your U.S. property.
Watch those taxes The U.S. and some other countries require you to file tax forms if you spend more than six months there, including average time over the past three years.
Actively manage your financial life even when you’re far from home This is vital to your financial health. You might be able to take care of most of your finances via computer but managing your portfolio of mutual funds or securities may be better left to your ‘home-based’ financial advisor.
Pay your bills Pay outstanding bills before you leave and make arrangements to pay those that will arrive while you’re away – perhaps through Internet banking.
Ensure you can get cash when you need it Arrange for access to cash through ATMs – and be sure you have a duplicate ATM card in case your original is lost or stops working.
When you’re confident that you’re adequately covered by your financial sunblock, you’ll have a much more enjoyable – and potentially much less catastrophically expensive – southern sojourn. By the way, you can get the best financial sunblock preparation (and overall financial plan) for your particular situation from your professional advisor. For the best protection during your holiday and for your overall financial life, call before you pack.
This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.