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Milford Trust Lawyers: How Does Living Abroad Impact My Estate Plan?

  • By Steven Rubin
  • |
  • Posted May 23, 2022

Deciding to live abroad can be an exciting time in anyone’s life. A lot of planning goes into making such a drastic move, but one area that Milford trust lawyers see commonly overlooked is estate planning.

While estate planning is not the most exciting element to think about when planning a new life in a foreign country, it’s critical to address. Without this element in place, your family and assets could be at risk if something happens to you while you are living outside of the United States.

Tax and Legal Challenges That Could Arise

Living in multiple countries creates tax implications and legal challenges that you may not be expecting. Laws regarding probate, gift taxes, and inheritances are specific to the country in which you reside. Even the United States has different regulations for citizens and people with green cards. If you don’t think about these differences, you could face many challenges.

Depending on the country you move to, the laws could prevent you from deciding which assets you want to leave to named beneficiaries. Some countries follow forced heirship laws. That means you can only distribute your assets to blood relatives or next-of-kin. If you ignore whether the country has a forced heirship law, your desired beneficiary might not receive the property they’re entitled to.

Information to Find Out Before You Move

Learning about the correct way to create your estate plan while avoiding potential problems down the road is vital. You must consider various factors specific to international estate planning to manage your estate the way you want. The main elements you should know about include:

  • Residency, Domicile, and Nationality – Residency, nationality, and domicile rules determine the jurisdictions that control a person’s final affairs. If you don’t plan properly, multiple countries could control the management of your estate, costing your loved one’s time and money.
  • Gift tax laws – When you transfer money or assets to another person beyond an annual limit without payment in return, the activity is subject to a gift tax. Once you meet the annual limit, you can deduct it from your lifetime gift tax exemption. Knowing about gift tax regulations in a different country can help you alleviate cross-border estate plan costs.
  • Owning and transferring real property – Tax reduction strategies are often complex when including real estate in international estate planning. You could reduce taxes by setting up a U.S.-based trust to purchase the property and transfer it to your named beneficiaries.

Discussing Your Individual Options

If you’re planning to live abroad and want to discuss how to create an international estate plan, contact our Milford trust lawyers today. We can help you develop a plan to safeguard your assets and secure your family’s future. Call our office at 203-877-7511 to schedule an appointment today.