Heading South for Winter

By Brett Caldwell, CFP®, CPA

Wealth Manager

October 5, 2020

The weather is starting to get chilly and, for many, it’s that time of year to pack your bags and head south for the winter. With the pandemic as a new factor, there are a few things to consider on top of the usual checklist:

Do you feel comfortable with the medical care down in your secondary residence community?

If you get sick, there is a possibility that you may not be able to fly or have difficulty driving back to your primary residence; are you comfortable staying at your winter home longer, if needed?

When you return to your primary residence in the spring, depending on COVID-19 advisory list at that time, are you prepared to self-quarantine in your home for 14 days?

As you prepare to leave your home for a few months, here are a few other things to keep in mind.

Snowbird Checklist:

Bring/have access to certain legal documents, such as healthcare directives, in case of a medical emergency.

Have a list of applicable prescriptions in case of emergency.

If leaving a car behind, plan to have a family member or friend run the car every so often.

Arrange for snow removal and potential landscaping/mowing.

Power outage alerts – if available, sign up for email alerts from your power provider on outages. Look into signing up for weather alerts of bad storms coming to the area where you live (i.e. smartphones have an application for this feature)

Store valuables in a safe or off-site in a safe deposit box or with family or friends.

Notify your utility companies that you will be away.

Turn off exterior water.

Turn off water to the washing machine.

Turn off or turn down water heaters to save on costs as well as reduce risk of fire.

Give a key to the house to a family member, neighbor, or friend.

Have a family member, neighbor, or friend come over and check on things periodically inside and out. A client once had a rubber water line blow that did $20,000 in water damage by the time he discovered it!

Notify the town police or a town official that you will be gone for an extended period of time (police will do more drive-bys and if your alarm goes off, they are aware you are not home).

Make sure timers are set for inside and outside lights. If possible, vary the inside light times (think “Home Alone”).

Put away and lock up external items like furniture, sheds, gates, etc.

Reset programmable thermostats so you keep the house cooler but not so cool as to cause a problem with frozen pipes.

Have your calls forwarded from your home number to your cell or new number.

For some people, it might be appropriate to install external cameras. The price of such systems has come way down, and the house can be monitored over the internet through a simple app.

Forward your mail. In regards to mail, you could sign up through USPS so that they email you a picture of all the mail you will be receiving each day, it can be an easy way to keep tabs on your mail and make sure you get everything at the winter residence.

Review your default shipping addresses (with Amazon or other retailers) and change to the winter destination so you don’t accidentally have stuff shipped to your primary residence.

Contact your custodian to set up electronic delivery of your statements and other related documents. You also can do this through your online access.

If you plan on claiming the state where your second home is as your legal residence, please contact your wealth management team so we can change our records and advise you accordingly.

We wish you safe and health travels as you enjoy the winter months in your secondary home.  Please reach out to your wealth manager if you have any question as you prepare.

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