Your spouse’s residency status.

If you are a non-U.S. citizen married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you will not be able to gift your surviving spouse an unlimited amount of assets tax-free. 

Where you want to be buried.

If you want to be buried or cremated in California, you are entitled to do so. However, if you wish for your remains to be repatriated to your country of origin, your estate administrator may have to follow special procedures.

Where you own property.

If you own property overseas, it may be outside the purview of California law. Your estate plan, then, will have to account for an international probate in accordance with the laws of the country in which the other property is located.

Where you reside.

If you hold real property or other assets in California, your residency status may affect where your holdings and assets can and cannot be probated. This should be a major consideration for foreign nationals who own assets in California but are not California residents.

How an Attorney Can Help

A California estate planning attorney can help determine how your possessions—in-state and abroad—can be fit into a comprehensive estate plan that accounts for your needs inside the United States and overseas.

If you are married to an American citizen, for instance, you may wish to discuss qualified domestic trusts with your partner. Also known as QDOTs, these trusts help couples of different nationalities bequeath one another gifts with minimal tax penalties.

While you may have many choices to protect your legacy, your options are very much dependent on the nature and location of your assets as well as your residency status. 


Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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