When people move internationally, sometimes they leave property or obligations behind. U.S. property could include:
- Bank accounts
- Real estate
- Items in a storage unit
- Family members
- Child support requirements
- U.S. stocks and bonds
- Retirement accounts and life insurance
The IRS taxes people who are U.S. citizens whether they live in the United States or not. It also taxes people who have property located in the United States or who work here and take advantage of its laws. If you spend any amount of time in the U.S. during a year, you will need to pay taxes on your income. Even if you move outside the U.S. and do not return, you may still have some ties here that will lead to taxes. These taxes could include estate taxes if you pass away while you own property here and are still domiciled here.
In particular, U.S. citizens should consider the relatives they leave behind. If you are creating an estate plan in your new country, will its laws allow your relative to collect an inheritance? Will you owe gift taxes in the U.S. this year, or will your estate have a large estate tax bill in the future? Your new country may have laws that affect your ability to send or receive money from the U.S. For example, some countries have different estate and gift tax laws that affect your ability to give money to people in other countries. Others have treaties with the United States that will affect estate planning and taxes.
If you are planning an international move or have just moved but have significant connections to the U.S., you probably have a lot of questions about the issues discussed above. These are all questions that a U.S. lawyer with experience in international estate planning can help you address. You also may need a lawyer in your new country to help you navigate its laws and make plans for property located there.
Owning property or earning income in the United States could lead to the need for an estate plan that takes into account U.S. law — especially tax and property law. You may feel like you leave a whole world behind when you moved, but your ties to the U.S. could be stronger than you think.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.