International Estate Planning Issues
INTERNATIONAL ESTATE PLANNING ISSUES:
In the bay area international clients and asset ownership issues are a way of life, and all practitioners should have some knowledge in this area.
Complex estate and gift tax rules apply to your estate planning if you are not a U.S. citizen and you own assets in the United States. Or what about U.S. citizens with assets overseas? This discussion will cover the issues related to international clients and assets.
These rules become even more complex if you die owning "U.S. situs" assets. Without getting overly technical, U.S. situs assets include stock options in a U.S. company, stock ownership in a U.S. company, a U.S. company's corporate bonds, and real estate located in the U.S. Other items are included, too, but these are the most common.
And even if the non-US citizens have their "green cards", they may still be subject to the extremely high gift and estate tax rate that non-resident aliens pay – a person can be a US resident for income tax purposes but a "non-domiciliary" for gift and estate tax purposes. While US income taxes are based on "residency", US gift and estate taxes are based on “domicile”, which is a very different concept.
There are ways in which a “non-domiciliary” can legally avoid having to pay high gift and estate tax rates. However, not many estate planning lawyers are aware of the planning opportunities for non-US citizens and non-residents.