Nomads tend to be an optimistic bunch and the possibility of dying abroad is not something most think about. It is, however, a possibility and being well prepared is very important. You want to make things as easy as possible for your family in case the worst was to happen. In this article, I explain how.

 

Some background

Thousands of travelers die outside their home countries every year. Statistically, around 60% of those deaths have natural causes. Accident, crime and suicide make up the rest. While dying is always a complicated business, dying abroad often results in a bureaucratic nightmare due to the multitude of jurisdictions involved and a lack of familiarity with local customs. It can also (in most cases actually) result in a hefty bill for your loved ones (or travel insurance company). The importance of preparedness is crucial and this leads us to the next point, how to prepare.

 

How to prepare

First of all, you need travel insurance (or expat health insurance). You also need to make sure that your policy covers the repatriation of mortal remains. I have written an health insurance guide, you can read it here. Why is insurance so important? Because depending on the circumstances of your death, the cost of “processing” your mortal remains and repatriating your body home can easily cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of USD. A bill like that is not the legacy most people want to leave to their loved ones.

Secondly, you need to write down the details of your insurance policy and give them to your loved ones. Being insured will be worth squat if you die and no one knows who your insurer is / what your policy number is. This could also be useful in case you are incapacitated (for example, if you lose your memory or are in a coma). You should also give your loved ones a scan of the information page of your passport, a list of the banks you have accounts at and if applicable, the contact details of your local friends (in the country where you are traveling).

Thirdly, you should familiarize yourself and your loved ones with the bureaucratic process of dying abroad. While I will not go into details as the process differs from country to country, it usually works like this: when you die someone will report your death to the local authorities (for example, the hotel manager). The local authorities will then contact your embassy and report your death. The embassy will contact the police department in your hometown who will then contact and inform your loved ones of your passing. It will be your loved ones responsibility to contact your travel insurance company and arrange for the payment of all medical / repatriation fees. They will also be responsible for settling any outstanding charges you may have with the hotel you were staying at, car rental company etc. While some insurance company handle everything, most do not. This means that your loved ones will also have to contact the police department where your death was recorded and arrange everything themselves. This can be a major pain in the ass so having some form of SOP in place can definitely help.

Lastly, you should ensure that you have a will / testament and that it is up to date. Thanks to the magic of the internet, you can write a legal will online in just a few minutes. Learn more: US citizens, Canadian citizens, UK citizens, citizens of other countries. You should also ensure that you have properly structured your bank accounts (only available to Insiders Club members) and other assets for succession. This is especially important if you have assets in multiple countries.

 

(icX) Global life insurance

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Government resources

Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States.

 

Sources

https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/abroad/events-and-records/death.html
https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/emergency-info/death-abroad
https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/relationships/death-and-wills/what-to-do-if-someone-dies-abroad/

  • Erwin

    You are raising some important point here. The main question is, how to make your bitcoin holdings transferable after you are gone. Unlike your fiat assets, your bitcoin assets are usually not tied to your identity such as your passport, but to a simple login/password combo (with the additional 2-factor authentication). any lawyer you deposit your will at can get to your bitcoins.

    Long time haven’t been here! Actually, I’ve written some 5 comments under your various posts, luckily, I saved them on my other computer for reference, I know you are having problems with authenticating legitimate feedback. 🙂

  • Do you know if there is a way to transfer BTC out of a deceased person’s wallet if a service like Coinbase was used?

  • Erwin

    Well, if you store your bitcoin with a service like Coinbase, then it’s no different than storing your money in a bank account, with the same risks, such as forfeiture, or the provider going out of business, just a different currency. The beauty of bitcoin, and this is where it starts to get interesting, is that you have the possibility to hold your assets under trusting no company or jurisdiction, just the bitcoin system itself, outside the legal authority of any country.