HELP! I Have Assets In The U.S. AND Outside Of The U.S. Justin Crain, Partner

HELP! I Have Assets In The U.S. AND Outside Of The U.S. Justin Crain, Partner

With our world becoming more globally connected, it is very possible that you own assets inside and outside of the United States. Some countries may recognize your U.S. Will. This may occur if the rules in your state meet all of the same minimum requirements of the other country in which your assets are located. This scenario is not common and is more often a coincidence than a formally planned coordination between countries. Interestingly, some foreign jurisdictions will not recognize a Will made in the United States even if it technically follows all of their legal requirements for forming a valid Will.

It can be difficult to make one document meet all the requirements of multiple counties and some people will choose to draft and execute Wills and legal documents in each country in which assets are owned. One specific solution could be to create a supplemental Will for the additional countries where foreign property is owned. If properly drafted, this approach could help prevent one Will from revoking another when multiple Wills exist.

Another approach could be to follow Will rules adopted by a few countries in efforts to streamline the distribution of international assets. A convention was held in 1973 by the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT) to provide for a uniform law regarding Wills that would allow a Will to be accepted in multiple countries. 21 countries are currently part of the Convention Providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will. If you have assets in countries that are part of this convention, the great news is that with proper planning, you can take advantage of the benefit of a special international will being accepted in multiple jurisdictions.

As you can imagine, planning for the distribution of assets across international borders is rather complex and each situation is extremely unique. The good news is that with proper planning, international assets can be addressed as part of your comprehensive estate plan, and with accurate coordination of international laws and legal tools, you will be able to leave an effective and intentional legacy that includes international assets. 

If you currently have international assets or plan to acquire international assets, contact us ASAP so that we can help you avoid international planning missteps.

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