Should you have the ability to choose who inherits your assets, and whether or not to disinherit certain family members? Or should your closest family members have a right to some of your property in the event of your death? While the United States is a common law country that gives individuals the freedom to disinherit most family members, a surprising number of countries across the globe have laws that force some aspects of inheritance, regardless of a person’s wishes.
Forced Heirship Laws Across the Globe
Forced heirship, the concept that some family members should automatically have a stake in your property following your death, has a long and storied history around the world. In many countries, especially civil law countries and Islamic countries, forced heirship laws still exist today in a variety of forms:
- Saudi Arabia
Many forced heirship laws state that a person cannot specifically dictate who their estate is passed to in the event of their death. In many cases, children, grandchildren, and spouses are “protected heirs” who cannot be disinherited. In countries with very strict forced heirship laws, a person may have no options when it comes to their estate. In other countries, a person may have the freedom to leave specific portions of an estate to another designated person or to control other limited aspects of their estate after their death.
Forced Heirship as an Issue for International Estate Planning
If forced heirship isn’t an issue in the United States, why should you worry about the concept? For many of our international clients, who may own property abroad, forced heirship has the potential to seriously complicate their estate plans. If you own homes, land, or property in another country, it is vital that you understand their heirship laws clearly and that you know how they will affect you, your family, and your assets.
Our International estate planning attorneys can work with you to create a working solution if you have property abroad in a forced heirship country. We can also connect you with a qualified estate planner in the country containing your property. Working with this professional will be vital to creating a plan that is valid, legal, and appropriate.
Bay Area International Estate Planning Attorney
At the Law Offices of Janet Brewer, we are dedicated to helping clients planning their estate who may have property or assets abroad. We will make certain that your estate is protected after your death and that your wishes are met as closely as possible under the law. To learn more about international estate planning, or to schedule a private meeting, call our experienced California estate planning attorneys today: (650) 325-8276.