4 Things You Need to Know About International Estate Planning

Will and Pen, ready to be signed

Whether you are a U.S. citizen residing in a foreign country or a non-U.S. citizen needing help with estate planning in the United States, our firm can help. International estate planning can be complicated. We have successfully guided numerous clients through the international estate planning process, and our firm has the experience to handle a variety of legal issues that may arise.

Here Are 4 Commonly Asked Questions About International Estate Planning:

1. Who can Benefit from International Estate Planning?

International estate planning lawyers can provide legal advice and assistance to clients in a variety of situations. Whether you are a U.S. citizen who is married to a non-U.S. citizen, a U.S. citizen living in a foreign country, or a non-U.S. citizen residing in the United States, our international estate planning services can provide many benefits. We can help protect your assets and ensure your wishes are met should you pass away.

Estate planning attorneys can provide services for:

  • Expatriate and pre-immigration tax planning
  • Estate and gift tax planning for U.S. citizens with foreign spouses
  • U.S. transfer taxes for non-U.S. citizens
  • Estate planning for U.S. citizens with family and assets in foreign countries
  • Cross-border gratuitous wealth transfers
  • Information reporting requirements regarding foreign assets, interests, and accounts

Australia, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and the United States are the countries with the greatest need for international estate planning. In an increasingly mobile world, people are moving and residing in other countries more than ever before. People are also buying properties, as well as investing and growing businesses, in foreign countries. This means there is an ever-growing need for international estate planning services. Whatever your situation, our firm can provide knowledgeable representation and legal advice.

2. How Do I Avoid Unnecessary Tax Burdens?

Citizens of the United States are taxed on all sources of income they earn, including income from overseas. Depending on the situation, the income may be subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. U.S. citizens must also pay taxes on assets in foreign countries. In order to avoid unnecessary tax burdens or double taxation, it is important to meet all reporting requirements for foreign assets, use all possible income exclusions and credits, and pay attention to the specific language of the income tax treaties that relate to your situation.

Double taxation occurs most often with the transfer of foreign-held property. If you are a U.S. citizen who owns foreign property, and you try to transfer that property to the U.S., you may be taxed by both the U.S. and the country where the property was held. Tax treaties between countries can help avoid this situation. The U.S. has property tax treaties with many countries, including Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Greece, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, and the UK.

By paying attention to the language of the specific tax treaty of the country where your property is held, you can help avoid double taxation. Some treaties only allow the foreign country to tax the property, while others also allow the U.S. to tax the property. Taxation on gifts to heirs also varies with each country, and depends on the closeness of the relationship of the donor and recipient. With our experienced international estate planning attorneys, you can receive informative, personal legal advice for your situation.

3. How Do I Create an International Will?

International wills have been available since 1973. In order to be valid, they must be in writing and signed in front of a minimum of 2 witnesses and an attorney. In addition, each page must be numbered and signed by the testator at the bottom. Furthermore, a certificate must be attached at the end, proving that an authorized party (an attorney, not a notary) has met the requirements for drafting the international will. Having an international will can help ensure your foreign property and assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away.

4. What Does the International Probate Process Look Like?

The international probate process begins when a person who owns assets and property in a foreign country dies. The process of gathering, valuing, and distributing the assets can be complicated, and all family members and beneficiaries named in the will must be notified. Furthermore, the court must validate the will, as well as pay off debts and taxes the decedent owed, before dividing the rest of the estate.

People who may be involved in the international probate process include:

  • Estate executors
  • Family members
  • Beneficiaries
  • Estate representatives of foreign-held property
  • Accountants
  • Wealth management companies
  • Financial advisors

Taking inventory of the decedent’s foreign property and assets, as well as determining how to distribute the estate among beneficiaries and others named in the will, can be stressful. In addition, foreign law affidavits, property tax statements, and document notarizations are often difficult to understand. Our efficient legal services can help decrease the stress associated with probate court issues. In addition, our international probate lawyers can help oversee the transfer of foreign property, assets, securities, and bank funds to beneficiaries. If there is a dispute, we can provide compassionate and thorough representation as you seek a favorable outcome.

Call Our International Estate Planning Attorneys Today at (833) 227-8761

At Castro & Co., we have walked hundreds of clients through the international estate planning process. Our firm is committed to finding effective legal solutions for a variety of estate planning issues. Whatever your situation, we can talk with you and provide diligent representation from start to finish.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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