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When Charitable Giving Goes Global

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Increasingly, global-minded philanthropists want to support causes overseas, triggering unique legal and tax challenges.

International borders aren't even lines in the sand, in most instances. When it comes to crossing borders for charitable endeavors, one would think processes and protocols would help ease the effort. Unfortunately, the globalization of individual charitable giving, just like the globalization of the economy, has brought with it more complexity and attending legal challenges.

This is an increasing trend, too.

According to the 2012 Giving USA Study of charitable giving, international giving has been increasing for the past several years. This increase has come despite the struggling economy and overall challenges to domestic giving. In fact, international giving has experienced a 15.2% growth from 2009 to 2011, with the data yet to come for 2012.

To gain an appreciation of the challenges that have come with this unprecedented rate of growth, it's worth reading a recent article by WealthManagement.com titled "Giving Without Borders."

In practical reality, giving without borders often requires analyzing all relevant "borders" to determine how each side of the border will account for the gifts. Indeed, "gift" can be something of a misnomer with the rise of "impact investments." All the same, when an individual decides to transcend borders with generosity, the laws of each nation and a tangle of international law may come into play.

Accordingly, if you are inclined to make your charitable mark outside of the United States, then be forewarned and forearmed when it comes to the potential tangle of laws you will need to navigate.

For more information please visit my estate planning website.

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