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Whether you're moving across country or to the next town, relocating can be stressful to all. Advance planning can ease the trauma and it can be done from the comfort of your own home.
*Gather as much information as you can from your real estate agent, local newspapers, street maps and telephone directories [these can be found in most public libraries]. Get in touch with the chamber of commerce for an information package listing banks, schools and businesses in your new area.
Don't forget to obtain copies of everybody's medical, dental, and school records. Update all prescriptions as they usually cannot be filled in another state. And if you have pets, get their health certificates and shot records.
Take the time to prepare your children for the move. Be available to them to answer questions and to offer reassurance. The older the children, the more difficult it will be for them because they've formed stronger attachments outside the immediate family. So team up with your children; allow them a little control over some of their own packing. Explore your new town together and see if they'll develop friendships by participating in activities that are familiar to them. A very good time to move, if possible, is in the summer. Your children can begin the school year with everyone else. Having made a few acquaintances will have helped considerably when they are faced with new teachers and new rules.
Shop around and get bids from several moving companies. It is very important to ask if this company transports directly to the final destination. Because of interstate restrictions for some companies, more than one carrier might be used. Obviously, more handling might result in a higher risk of loss or damage to your goods. When comparing companies check: length of time in business, the number of contact people [one is preferable], state and federal licenses, pick-up and delivery procedures, storage facilities (dry, in a safe location?), are runners and protective padding used?, the specific costs of packing, mileage, and unloading, type of insurance and liability, the truck driver's records, is there a tracking method for your goods while in transit, what is the company's on-time record, and what are the expected gratuities? Specific obligations and responsibilities should be written into the contract before hiring. You should also inquire if this is a local agent of a national carrier, and what are the benefits in dealing with a national carrier. Request a description of the company's procedures and the number of agents that must ultimately be contacted.
The American Moving and Storage Association (AMSA) is the largest international association of moving and storage companies. Headquarters are in Alexandria, Virginia. AMSA has rigorous educational and training programs of all levels of personnel. Contact the AMSA to find out if any moving company is a member.
Call the chamber of commerce or the Better Business Bureau to narrow your list. Membership in either organization might indicate reputation will at least inform you if any complaints have been lodged.
Each company you contact will send a representative for a walk-through of your home in order to assess the amount and type of household goods to be moved. Because this is a mostly seasonal business and thus a competitive one, it won't hurt to ask about a discount, especially for interstate relocations. Ask for a "not to exceed" bid to ensure no hidden or unexpected additional charges. Moving companies may state that they cannot guarantee a set "destination charge" in the bid. However, the driver determines this charge when the truck arrives at the ultimate destination. It is a good idea ot have some pictures and to be able to accurately describe conditions and supply rough measurements of your destination house to the moving representative. Some companies charge more if furniture must be carried beyond what they consider a 'normal' distance, up or down a flight of stairs, or for 'specialty' items like pianos. Make sure you personally review all surveys of all inventory to be moved before you sign a survey sheet. Then, have a legible copy of everything surveyed and/or signed. Make sure each service and its cost is itemized.
Besides the cost of moving, there is the cost of the boxes and the packing and unpacking labor costs. Decide what you will pack and what you want packed professionally. The packing costs should be itemized and then added to the total after the survey. The price of packing can be reduced if you pack the non-breakable items items yourself( books, linens, pots and pans, plastic ware, clothing, etc.).
You'll encounter another form, called the Binding Form, which states that you acknowledge the binding price is only for those services which have been listed. To make any changes, you must notify the moving representative to make an Addendum which will reflect any additional or deleted services or inventory and state the new price of the move.
An Order For Service form lists all the information of location, dates, method of payment, liability, any special services and phone numbers. You should be certain of the accuracy of all the information before signing this form.
The Bill of Lading is signed on the day of the move and is a legally binding contract between you and the company. you should be given a copy of this form before the driver starts loading. Note the shipment registration number, which is usually in the upper right hand corner. Keep this number in case of any questions regarding your shipment.
Try to use all lidded boxes, as this facilitates the work, making stacking easier, and helps reduce the risk of damage. Label all boxes boldly, especially if the contents are fragile. Clothes and linens should be left in dresser drawers, and perhaps you could pack a few small breakables in between some of the layers. Remove and hand carry all valuables such as cash and jewelry yourself. If you live in a building with an elevator. and you'll be needing the elevator to move, reserve it during the time of the move. Try to place all boxes and smaller items in one room near the front of the house or in the garage. This will make the move go faster. All desks and credenzas must be emptied, but 2 and 4-drawer filing cabinets can remain full. Try to disassemble all beds prior to the movers' arrival, as this can save time.
Allow for some flexibility in case of delays. A large van can transport more than one average-sized household, and if your household is being moved along with another household, a delay on one end can result in delays all down the line. The date of moving and alternate dates should be mutually acceptable and this should be written on the "order for service" form and the "bill of lading".
If you specifically request a weekend pickup or delivery the fee will be higher. But a spread of alternate dates that includes either a Saturday or Sunday is often available, and shouldn't cost you overtime. Sunday, however, is usually not a good day for loading, as offices are usually closed and the driver won't be able to obtain additional supplies, assistance, or any forgotten but necessary paperwork.
You should see a special section for this program on "order for service" and the "bill of lading". Be sure to ask to be placed on this program. With it, the company must reimburse you in cash for each day's delay in either pickup or delivery outside of the agreed-upon spread of alternate dates. This could be as much as $100 or $125 a day. You must file a delay within 30 days of delivery. Even if your employer is paying for your relocation, you can receive this reimbursement. There will be set minimum requirements of weight imposed by the company, and these may vary seasonally, but since the average roomful of goods weighs between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds, a 2 or 3 bedroom household should usually qualify. A few possible restriction on the guarantee may be if a storage facility is the destination or point of loading, or conditions such as strikes, riots, or natural disasters that might prevent passage.
The storage industry is rapidly expanding and still mostly unregulated. This can cause questions concerning the safety of your goods. Self-storage contracts usually hold the operator of the facility blameless, no matter what. Many problems can occur, from insider break-ins, water damage due to weather conditions, fire, and hazardous waste dumping.
To protect yourself and your goods take a few precautions: Examine the facility carefully. Note the security measures, lighting, tidiness, leaks-if any, and whether 24-hour video surveillance is provided. Consider paying a little extra for storage that is temperature-regulated. Extremes of temperature and humidity may damage some items that are sensitive to these factors( antiques, papers, etc.). Shop around for competitive prices There are so many storage facilities now open and opening all the time. Most are mom-and-pop type businesses, but about 11% of the business is run by corporations like U-Haul and Shurgard. Finally, a disc-type lock is recommended as it is not easy to cut with bolt cutters.
Upon arrival at the final destination, you must pay as agreed by whatever method was previously arranged before unloading begins. A certified check for the exact amount of binding price is recommended. While checking off numbers from your inventory sheets, check for damage as you instruct the movers regarding placement of your goods. You should already know where the large items (i.e. furniture, appliances) will go.
If you request that the mover unpack some items for you (mattress, box spring), it would be correct to offer a gratuity. If you specifically requested unpacking done, the representative will add the extra charge to the final total.
INSURANCE - This is also known as cargo (or transit) protection.
To begin, make a household inventory and make it a point to review your homeowner's policy and its provisions for relocation. A good idea of documenting your goods is to videotape them. Moving companies offer several kinds of coverage. What they are selling is not insurance. They are not an insurance company. They are selling a coverage and accepting some degree of liability in return for a paid premium. You are being offered an option for compensation if any of your goods are lost or damaged while in transit with the moving company. Remember, though, that some companies will offer no compensation at all if they didn't do the packing.
Basic, or Standard Protection
Many companies are required to accept some responsibility when in transit. The protection is usually a small amount per pound and it varies. This should not cost you extra.
Added Value Protection
This is when a company charges a premium and increases the per-pound coverage amount.
Market-Value or Depreciated Value Coverage
This may cost less than "Full Replacement Value" coverage, but determining the market value of something can be difficult. It is based on what the item would sell for now, considering its age, condition, and amount of usage.
Full Replacement Value
This allows you to receive reimbursement equal to the same item, brand new. There may be a deductible and this amount will be deducted before you are paid.
Many of these policies do not include damage while in transit due to shifting in the truck or breakage by you or the movers. Breakage or damage coverage may be acquired temporarily from the mover or permanently as a "floater" policy on your homeowner's or renter's insurance.
If you require third-party insurance, this is not carrier protection. Make sure this company provides "All risk" insurance protection, comprehensive replacement costs, and coverage for "Acts of God": Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, and high winds. You should also be covered for "Civil Commotion", which includes strikes or riots, and you should be protected while your goods are in approved storage. Make sure you receive a 'Certificate of Insurance'. This is important. Always check with the named insurer to validate and confirm the terms, and be repetitive if necessary, especially if the situation changes or appears confusing. Also check the finances of the insurance company.
It is important that you put a valuation on your own goods. Leaving it up to the moving company may result in some discrepancies. Some questions you should ask are: What is the total coverage I get? What is the limit per item? How much is the deductible? Is it 'Market Value' or 'Replacement Value'? How do and with whom do they handle furniture repairs-this will give you some idea of the quality of the work if damage should occur.
In the industry, 'released rate liability protection' is provided in the event of loss or damage by the mover. This is a valuation protection and may vary in price. Read this section on your bill of lading before agreeing to pay for extra liability protection. It is important to discover the extent of the moving company's liability and to review your homeowner's insurance policy in case it does cover loss or damage to household goods while being moved.
Usually, if you store your goods in a warehouse for any length of time, separate insurance is needed. This can be arranged through the facility itself, the movers, or your insurance company. Storage facilities usually charge a minimal dollar amount per $1,000. of declared value for each month of storage.
Many items are not insured and should be taken with you. This list includes jewelry, coins, stamps, and important documents. Obviously food will not be insured and anything of sentimental value is only covered to its actual cost. The inside workings of appliances, unless there is obvious damage to the outside are not covered. The same applies to boxes you packed yourself. Also, sets of anything are not covered. Only the damaged piece itself will be repaired or replaced.
Don't forget to back up your disks before moving as any loss of software data is not covered. If you have any items of extreme value, such as a car, or art works, you must declare their value to the insurance company and your mover. There might be a limit to the amount the company will pay for one item. Find out what that limit is and notify your mover if any item exceeds that limit. It must be noted on the bill of lading for you to be covered.
These goods are explosives, such as ammunition or road flares, corrosives like vehicle batteries, oven, toilet, or drain cleaners, bleach, pool chemicals, fertilizers, household disinfectants, pesticides, matches, and wet clothing-which can spontaneously combust. If you pack any of these items which are considered dangerous goods, and any damage results because of one or more of these goods, your insurance might be void. Dispose of these goods responsibly and legally.
As your household goods are unloaded, make notes of any damage on your copy of the inventory sheet and the driver's copy as well. You will sign all pages of the inventory sheet and bill of lading and when you do you are agreeing to accept the shipment in apparently good condition except where damage or loss is noted.
ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission-213-894-4008) regulations allow you to file a claim up to 9 months after delivery of your goods. However, the faster you file, the better. Obtain all the forms you'll need, but don't expect negotiations to begin until the necessary claim forms have been submitted (by you) and the move has been paid for in full. Do not tamper with the damaged goods in the meantime, as the moving company may wish to restore or repair the item(s) after having sent someone to appraise the damage.
After submission of all appropriate forms to the moving company, the ICC requires a response from the company within 30 days, and within 120 days, the company must either deny the claim, pay it, or settle with a compromise. YOu must receive a letter within 30 days explaining any delay.
The ICC simply enforces regulations only, it cannot resolve a claim or force a company to pay a settlement.
The American Movers Conference (AMC) sponsors an arbitration program that is approved by the ICC and is operated by the American Arbitration Association. The program is for AMC member companies, so keep this in mind when selecting a company to move your goods. IF you are still unsatisfied regarding your claim, you could file a civil-action suit. With a lawyer, this could by time-consuming as well as expensive.
When you are also moving your financial life, there are many details not to be overlooked.
At least 8 weeks before the actual move, open a checking account with an order for new checks with your address in your new city. Have the bank hold them for you if your moving day is within a month. At the new bank, fill out a form that allows the bank to send for disbursement of CD or IRA documents. Make sure your old bank's IRA department has your new address. Many banks offer a free service to help newcomers become financially settled.
Always obtain copies of your family's latest x-ray and test results from doctors and dentists so you won't have to repeat them. Take a detailed inventory of all the household items to be moved professionally by videotaping them, taking photographs, and recording all serial numbers. Hand-carry this inventory and all other important documents.
About 2 weeks before you move buy enough travelers checks to cover all expenses including travel and at least the first 2 weeks at your new home. Your new checks might be delayed, and while waiting for your in-state driver's license, you might not be able to cash any personal checks. Clear out all of your bank accounts by having the old bank wire the funds to your new bank, or if it is a small amount, take a cashier's check. Be very careful about the math and leave a balance if you have any checks still outstanding. Try to close accounts after interest has been earned by those interest-bearing accounts. Don't overlook valuables in your safe-deposit box. These should be hand-carried, and negotiable securities must be presented to your new bank in person. If you wish to send them by mail to be picked up at the post office, be aware of maximum liability coverage for a package, and the length of time it will be held. Some companies (Federal Express is one) will not accept negotiable documents for mailing. Call your mutual fund's service number to switch any automatic investment programs to the new bank. Send change-of-address cards to all credit institutions, lenders and any other person or company with you deal directly.
Go over all insurance questions with your agent. Make sure that items you move personally will be covered, as well as expensive fragile items you might wish to take in your car. That coverage should be through your homeowner's or renter's, not the auto policy. Get referred to a local agent and leave your new address with your old agent.
Report your new address to the Revenue Department on Form 882 or call 800-829-3676. Take care of all change-of-address procedures with the tax department and Social Security(800-772-1213).
Revise your will, power-of-attorney papers, living will and all other legal documents by a local lawyer in your new town. An out-of-state will is valid, but fees might be higher and probate could take longer because of it.
Review investment decisions if your new state's taxes are different. Some investments such as tax-free municipal bonds might become more or less attractive to you. Also, look over insurance policies, especially auto, as where you now live (i.e. rural as opposed to city) might change not only some rates, but also the deductible.
Under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, certain non-reimbursed moving expenses are allowed as a deduction when determining your federal adjusted gross income.
Deductible expenses include, the cost of the actual transportation of the household goods from the old to the new residence, the cost of packing, crating, storage (limited to 30 consecutive days), and unpacking, the cost of shipping your automobile, the cost of transporting household pets, the cost of moving goods from someplace other than your old home (relatives', summer home, etc.) not to exceed the probable cost if you were to move them from your old residence, the cost of transporting the family, including lodging, but not meals.
To qualify for these deductions you must be changing your residence in order to work or be self-employed at a new principal place of work, your new place of work has to be at least 50 miles farther from your old residence as your old job location, and you must be a full-time employee at or near the new place of work for 39 weeks of the first 12 months following your move. In the event of death or disability, this condition will be waived. It will also be waived because of discharge, except if discharge is due to willful misconduct. If you are self-employed you must work 78 weeks of the first 2 years after you have moved, with at least 39 weeks worked during the first 12 months.
For more information, try these resources:
IRS Problem Solving Line 1-800-829-1040
IRS Publication 521 Moving Expenses
* Many libraries carry cassette or video tapes to help taxpayers complete their Federal Income Tax forms.