If you’ve been putting off developing your estate plan because you own property or other assets in another country, you aren’t alone. Actually, the more complex your assets are, the more important it is to begin your estate planning while you’re still relatively young and healthy.
Many Floridians have property, businesses and other investments outside the U.S. They need to be given special consideration in your estate plan. Whether it’s a vacation condo in the Dominican Republic, a small home in Italy you were inspired to buy after watching an episode of House Hunters International or a percentage of a business in Mexico that your parents left you, it’s essential to let your estate planning attorney know about it.
Why shouldn’t you postpone your estate plan when you have foreign assets?
You may be planning to sell any foreign assets before you pass away. That’s fine, but you have them now. One of the purposes of having an estate plan is to have your affairs in order so that when you die, your loved ones won’t face any unnecessary complications and expenses. Since none of us can predict the future, it’s best to have a thorough estate plan in place and make changes to it later as needed.
You will also need to talk with an attorney in any country where you have assets. Probate and tax laws vary significantly across the world. You may need to have a separate will in the country where you own property or other assets to avoid violating any of their laws and leaving your loved ones to deal with that. Your Florida estate planning attorney and your overseas attorney will likely need to work together.
What if you don’t want to keep the property?
If you don’t use the property, you may choose to sell it or perhaps give it to a family member while you’re still alive. However, if you have a cottage abroad where you plan to spend a few weeks every summer for the rest of your life or a property or business that’s earning you a good amount of income, you may well choose to keep it.
By talking with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney, you can begin to take the necessary steps to make things easier on your family when you’re no longer around.