International Estate Planning

Maryland International Estate Planning Attorneys Guide You Through Complex Issues

A gift to, or from, a foreign national often has strings attached

Many people in the Washington, D.C. Metro area have family and friends who do not live in the U.S., or are citizens of other countries. Naturally, you want these individuals to be part of your estate plan; or perhaps you have property or assets you wish to gift which are in another country. The US Federal Government, along with individual states, creates rules and regulations regarding settling estates and the taxation of inheritance. Naturally, almost every country around the world has the same types of rules and regulations. For the most part, these rules and regulations are neither uniform nor consistent. If there is one common trend around the world when it comes to regulating estate matters – though, the U.S. is a notable exception to this trend – it is that governments around the world are closing budget gaps by increasing revenues associated with estates and inheritances. The experienced international estate planning attorneys at Altman & Associates in Maryland guide you through the many regulations you may run into when an estate plan impacts jurisdictions outside of Maryland and the U.S.

Do I Have to Worry About Foreign Estate Tax or Other Related Estate Obligations While Living in the U.S.?

Yes! You absolutely must consider and address foreign estate obligations. Unlike some courts around the world, anyone can come before American courts and seek relief – subject to certain rules and conditions. While controversy swirls around the enforcement of international claims in U.S. courts, they still occur. Moreover, procrastination or trepidation regarding foreign estate planning obligations will only lead to trouble or the loss of potential benefits for you or your future beneficiaries. Estate planning is a comprehensive process which should provide for certainty in the event of death or other unexpected events. Establishing certainty when dealing with foreign countries requires more planning, but it is essential to creating a comprehensive estate plan.

Each Country Has Different Rules and Potential Treaty Relationships 

Whether you are part of an estate plan which impacts a different jurisdiction or aspects of your estate plan could be recognized in a foreign country, you need to consider the full ramifications of giving or receiving a gift. There are a number of necessary estate planning inquiries when dealing with international estate planning which feature different answers in each jurisdiction, such as:

  • Whether there is an inheritance tax which applies to the estate?
  • Are death or estate benefits treated as income?
  • Are any taxes or fees collected by the foreign country’s national government, regional government, or both?
  • What are the legal processes and potential financial implications regarding the transfer of real or personal property?
  • To what extent are you or a potential beneficiary subject to the foreign country’s jurisdiction and under what designation (i.e. residency and domicile classifications)?
  • Do you or your beneficiary qualify for any kind of entitlements or exemptions?

Finally and most critically, you need to assess whether the country or countries in question have treaties with the U.S. which address estate planning issues. This is not a given, but many European countries have treaties with the U.S. and each other which can provide a certain amount of uniformity as to the issues referenced above. Addressing these questions is often a complex task and requires trusted legal expertise, along with collaboration with international counsel.

International Estate Issues Require Legal Guidance

International estate planning is an immensely broad and complex area of the law. We study how the laws of foreign countries impact you and your estate plan. We can guide you through the many regulations you may run into when an estate plan impacts jurisdictions outside of the United States.  Contact us by phone at (301) 468-3220 or online to schedule a consultation.