A Checklist For Snowbirds | Kerr Financial
Financial Planning
A checklist for snowbirds
Category: Financial Planning

As many individuals will soon be preparing to head south for the winter, there are a few items to keep in mind before heading to warmer climates. The following is a brief summary.

Health insurance 

This is probably the single most important item to take care of before leaving Canada for an extended stay out of the country. Provincial health plans will only reimburse for the equivalent daily limits applicable to the individual’s province of residence. The average cost of emergency treatments in the U.S. is $26,000. Without the proper travel insurance, Canadian provincial government plans cover only a small part of the cost. When applying for out-of-country coverage, review details such as the time limit one can be outside of the country and questions regarding pre-existing conditions. Not fully disclosing pre-existing conditions might cause the insurance provider to refuse a potential claim.

Car insurance

You should call your insurance provider if you are taking your vehicle outside of Canada for an extended period of time or if you plan to rent a vehicle for more than 30 days. Consideration should also be given to increasing the liability limit as claims in the U.S. can be expensive.

Number of days present in the U.S. 

The U.S. tax authorities have a method to determine whether an individual is a U.S. resident for tax purposes. If, by adding the number of days spent in the U.S. in 2016, plus one third of the days spent in 2015, and one sixth of the days spent in 2014, this total exceeds 182 then you would be considered a “resident alien” for tax purposes for the 2016 taxation year. This is called the Substantial Presence Test. Averaging more than 122 days per year would put you over the 183 total. To avoid having to file a U.S. tax return, you must submit Form 8840, Closer Connection Exception Statement for Aliens, by June 15 in order to prove your status as a Canadian resident. It is important to keep track of your date of entry and departure each time you travel to the U.S., including one day cross-border trips.

Take care of financial matters 

You will have bills to pay, tax instalments to make while you are away. Make arrangements to pay your bills while you are away. You could also pay your bills on-line. Ensure that you have access to cash. You might need to make investment or banking transactions while you are away or need to monitor your accounts.

Valid power of attorney 

If you spend much time in Florida, the laws there are very specific as to what constitutes a valid power of attorney should you become incapacitated there. There are specific formalities which must be respected in order for the document to be valid. Similarly, if you plan to spend much time in another state, you should be familiar with that state’s requirements governing powers of attorney.

“Cross border kit” 

To avoid unnecessary hassles when crossing the border, a cross border kit proving closer connection to Canada should be kept handy. Items such as a recent Canadian tax return and notice of assessment and utility bills should provide evidence that you intend to return to Canada.

Taking care of the above matters in advance will allow you to enjoy your stay down south with peace of mind, knowing that potentially costly matters have been addressed.

Kerr Financial

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Kerr Financial Group was formed in 1979 for the purpose of assisting individuals to maximize their personal financial resources, alleviate their financial and retirement concerns and simplify the administration of their affairs.

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