Estate planning is not the easiest thing to understand, and the exact rules can vary by state. But things can get even more complicated if you have foreign assets or holdings that will need to be distributed as part of your will or estate plan. You'll then have to make sure you are up to date not only with the laws in the United States, but the laws in Europe, Russia, or wherever the assets are located as well. Here are 3 tips to help you ensure your estate ends up going where you want upon your death.
Hire a Foreign Estate Attorney
You''ve likely already put some research into hiring a standard probate or estate attorney in the United States. But for best results, you really need to get an expert who can handle the assets in the foreign country in question. For example, if you own property in Russia, hiring a Russian probate lawyer is a good first step. This can be an additional lawyer in addition to your current team, or you can find an overseas counsel who is also an expert in United States inheritance law.
Simplify When Possible
While planning out distribution of the foreign assets in your estate, it can be helpful to everyone involved if you take steps now to simply the assets as much as possible. For example, if you have multiple foreign bank accounts, consider consolidating the bank accounts into just one or two now while you're still alive. There are various foreign exchange services that can help you with this. Basically, you are looking to tackle anything that will require a lot of paperwork now while you still can instead of making your family deal with it after you're gone.
Give Items Away as Gifts Right Now
When trying to distribute foreign assets in your will, your family will likely run into some heavy estate taxes during the transfer of these assets. If you don't want various governments around the world to get your hard-earned money, consider decreasing the overall size of your estate by giving some items away as gifts now. If the value of the items you are gifting is lower than whatever the current amount is for the United States gift tax exemption, the person receiving the gift will not have to pay any taxes on it.
If you plan on including foreign assets in your will, hire an attorney who specializes in inheritance law in the country in question. Then, work on simplifying your will by consolidating accounts and keep in mind that you may be able to give some assets away as gifts while you are still alive in order to escape the estate tax and further streamline your will. For more information, reach out to an estate attorney today.