Of all the jobs I have to do as a small business owner, few are worse than quarterly bookkeeping. I’m good about my daily receipts and ledger, the bank balances and bill payments. But four times a year it needs to be rolled up and reconciled. I usually end up with little piles of receipts, big complicated spreadsheets, and a tedious day summarizing it all for my accountants.
This quarter had a lot of unusual travel and expenses because of the funeral in Boulder. It has all of the complexity of a small wedding, planned ad hoc in moments. We’re still sorting out the financial and legal details, county certificates and probate processes, that will likely continue until autumn.
It’s a cautionary lesson: ‘good to have your will updated and your account details and passwords cached with a relative who will serve as executor. I don’t think that we could have ever sorted this remotely for someone living overseas without guidance and a local contact.
Remember, too, that there are special considerations for expats and dual nationals beyond the basics of keeping people informed. If, for example, you are passing 60, you need to start sorting your pension (Social Security) and health (Medicare) options. There are steps that need to be taken to preserve benefits, including updating your registration, to avoid penalties and lost benefits.
Congress is also taking up amendments to FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act that has been causing so much trouble between expats and their local banks. A draft bill would allow for a ‘same country exclusion’ that could simplify and reduce reporting requirements for residents using banks in their resident country. If you’re inclined to write your representative, this is a good issue that affects your everyday life overseas.
And, somewhat morbidly, Bloomberg has released results of a study of how Americans die abroad. Based on 8000 deaths from unnatural causes over the past 10 years, they show that biggest peril in Europe is still accidents.
Except in the Netherlands, where drownings dominate.
And with that, I’m off from the receipts towards a quiet weekend around Poole, reading and getting together with friends for travel, conversation, coffee and beers.