The rise of globalization created a world shaped by the free movement of goods, services, and individuals from one country to another. Modern individuals may own assets spread in different countries and jurisdictions, requiring an expert approach to estate planning.
Keep reading to find out how an international estate planning attorney can help you to preserve your legacy.
What is International Estate Planning? – Understanding the Concept
The term “estate planning” encompasses different legal and tax strategies to anticipate and arrange for the management and disposal of someone’s estate in the event of incapacitation or death.
Currently, more and more families travel, live, work, and invest across distinct countries and jurisdictions. This unique situation in which local individuals become global citizens requires a strategic approach to estate planning matters.
If a person lives in the United States while being married to a foreign spouse and owning assets in different places, structuring estate planning strategies requires a detailed assessment of the implications associated with cross-border tax and succession laws.
International estate planning requires the guidance of a legal counselor that understands the issues affecting different aspects of the client’s life, such as:
- Cross-border taxation
- Conflict of international legislation
- Community or marital property in different jurisdictions
- The enforceability of asset protection strategies in different jurisdictions
- All relevant tax laws governing inheritance, succession, gift transfers, and generation-skipping transfers
- Legal strategies to mitigate the unforeseen effect of transfer tax rules, diplomatic treaties, and other elements
An expert international estate planning attorney may help individuals in distinct situations to develop tailored strategies to preserve their estate and protect their loved ones in the future, including:
- Expat families from the United States
- US citizens married to non-US citizen spouses
- Non-US citizens investing in the United States
- Cross-border families with assets spread across different countries
Why Should I Work with an International Estate Planning Attorney? – A Case Study
Let’s say a US citizen living in Germany is married to a French spouse but has two children from a prior marriage in the United States and one from the present marriage living with his grandparents in Belgium.
Developing a solid estate plan in this type of situation involves property located in different jurisdictions, assets held in different countries, and the interests of individuals living completely separate lives.
Coordinating and structuring an estate plan involving real property, bank accounts, trusts, life insurance policies, IRAs, college savings, and other factors may result in a puzzle exponentially more complex as more elements add up to the strategy.
An experienced international estate planning attorney is fundamental to:
- Advise foreign clients on the adequate handling of US estate and investments
- Prepare estate plans for US citizens living abroad (or vice-versa)
- Advise trustors, beneficiaries, and trustees of US trusts both in the US and abroad on the implications of cross-border taxes and asset distribution
- Work with legal professionals from other countries to design tailored estate plans to minimize the tax burden
- Helping US citizens and permanent residents to handle gifts and inheritances from foreign family members while reducing exposition to tax liabilities
- Advise expats from the United States on estate planning matters