We live in an increasingly globalized world, and each year, more Americans decide to work, travel, and live overseas. This sort of international connectedness means that many California residents now own assets—from real estate to personal vehicles—in foreign countries. While many people assume that their California estate plan will protect all their holdings, no matter where they are located, any real property held abroad demands special consideration.
Accounting for Foreign Property in a California Estate Plan
The right estate plan can occasionally negate the need to do exhausting legal legwork because some countries recognize American wills and trusts. Many countries in Europe, for instance, are party to the Hague Convention on Form Testamentary Disposition of 1961. Signatories to this treaty recognize wills executed in other countries, so long as the will is considered valid in the decedent’s home country. While the United States did not sign this particular treaty, its provisions may protect American holdings in Hague Convention countries.
However, the Hague Convention’s 1961 accord—along with other international agreements—does not cover every country in the world. If you own real property in a country that does not recognize American wills or trusts, you may need to establish a separate will in that country to protect your property. This can be difficult, since your intended beneficiaries may be expected to pay inheritance taxes in both the United States and the country in which the real property is located.
Why You Need an Attorney’s Help
When your estate plan covers multiple jurisdictions in the United States as well as different countries’ legal systems, you need to ensure that your estate plan accounts for the law everywhere it may come into play.
However, it’s important to remember that an estate plan covering assets in different countries must be tailored to the rules, laws, and expectations of the probate courts in each country. Depending on the countries involved, you may not need to change your plan substantially. Alternatively, your estate planning attorney may have to coordinate with overseas experts to ensure that your legacy is safe from excess taxation or conflicting statutes.
An international estate planning firm can help you decide your best course of action.
Do You Need To Speak With An Attorney About Estate Planning?
If you need to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer please contact us online or call us directly at 800.756.5596 to first register for one of our free, informative seminars. Your attendance will qualify you for a special discount for our estate planning services should you decide to make a free appointment at the conclusion of the seminar and choose to proceed with us. We proudly serve clients throughout California with offices in Torrance, Newport Beach, Orange, Woodland Hills and Pasadena.