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Tax & Assurance Guidance

International Estate Planning

Posted on April 20, 2011 by

Clayton & Mckervey

Clayton & McKervey

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The people we love the most can often be financially, as well as emotionally, impacted at the time of an unexpected death without an estate plan.

For those who have done their estate planning, you realize a significant part is minimizing the amount of US estate taxes collected at your death. An equally important part of going through the estate planning process is providing the opportunity to help loved ones avoid a variety of “unintended consequences.” What do I mean by this? Let me explain.

Many individuals that are resident aliens came to the US to work for a subsidiary of the parent company in their home country.

  • They initially obtain an L-1 visa to be authorized to work in the US
  • Their spouse may or may not have authorization to work in the US
  • Through years living in the US, these individuals often apply for, and are granted, green card status
  • In addition, they buy homes, have children, and develop deep friendships
  • They start establishing their roots in the US and start to see the US as their permanent residence

However, there are some fundamental matters that need to be considered when choosing to live permanently in the US. Items that may need to be discussed include:

  • If I die and my spouse’s residency depends on my visa status, how will he/she maintain residency in the US if he/she wants to?
  • If I die, how will my spouse get access to assets that may only be titled in my name?
  • If both my spouse and I die, who will take care of my children? What if they are US citizens?
  • If both my spouse and I die, who will handle our financial affairs?

I would encourage all resident aliens to seek professional advice so they can anticipate and plan through these life changing issues. Going through the process is not painless, however, many clients have said they were relieved and felt more in control after having dealt with these significant issues.

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