There’s something undeniably appealing about the idea of living an expatriate adventure in retirement. But relocating to another country isn’t easy. You’ll need to consider a range of factors, from your destination country’s political stability to the logistics of managing your assets from afar. Here are a few of many financial and legal issues you must consider.
Access to quality health care is paramount in retirement, so be sure to understand the relative cost and quality of care in the country where you hope to retire and budget for the possibility that you may need to return home for certain medical procedures.
Medicare doesn’t cover health services outside the U.S. You may want private health insurance or seek a country that allows those holding permanent residence visas to join its national health plan. Keep in mind that if you return home later in retirement and sign up for Medicare, your premium will be 10% higher for each year you could have been enrolled but were not.
The IRS taxes U.S. citizens on income no matter where they live. Even if you relinquish your citizenship, you’ll owe income tax as a nonresident alien. The U.S. also has laws to collect income tax from retirees who move their assets to a foreign country; however, many countries have tax treaties with the U.S. that prevent double taxation.
Many of today’s retirees hope to work during their retirement but living in a foreign country may complicate employment. Consider the job prospects for people with your experience in that country and whether you’ll be allowed to work as a U.S. citizen abroad.
As finances can be comfortably managed from afar, expat retirees can keep most assets in the U.S., where the economy and political situation are relatively stable. A local account will prevent currency exchange fees and ATM withdrawal charges.
You may want to explore proactively addressing cash flow issues — like having your account automatically frozen when you repeatedly access your credit card from a remote location.
Talk to your financial advisors about hedging against exchange-rate fluctuations and the costs to transfer funds. Talk to your attorney to ensure that legal documents will be enforceable in your destination country and whether assets transferred abroad or acquired abroad will be subject to local estate tax rules.
For more information, contact The Menashe Morley Group in the Rancho Santa Fe office at 858-381-8113.
The Menashe Morley Group, serving the community for over 30 years: David Menashe is a Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor, and Bruce Morley is a First Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor and John Naviaux is a Financial Advisor for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.
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