Foreign Land and Assets
In today’s mobile world, it’s not uncommon to own land in foreign countries. From a beach oasis in Baja to a ski chalet in Quebec many people have homes or other assets just over the border. For anyone who has ever worked or served overseas, owning a flat in London or a villa in the south of France can be a wonderful way to retire. Regardless of where the chalet, villa, or flat may be, a basic will drafted in the USA may not be enough to satisfy foreign laws of probate.
If you or a loved one has assets in a foreign country, you will need a good estate attorney to help you avoid a slew of problems in the future. As Americans we are used to a large country where all of the 50 states will respect a last will and testament draw up in a different state. This is not the case when you cross into international territories. The will your uncle drew up in California may not be recognized by the French government.
You also may encounter a double taxation problem. Generally, these issues can be avoided with sufficient planning by an experienced, international estate lawyer. However, trying to undo double estate taxation because of poor estate planning is nearly impossible.
If you spend a significant portion of time in a foreign country, plan ahead. From how the local authorities handle your remains to keeping a family home in the family, you have to assume there will be significant differences to the processes in the US.