Many Americans choose to work or to retire in locations outside the borders of the United States. Whether you are a Midwesterner seeking warmth in the Caribbean or a New Yorker seeking peace in rural Italy or France, it is important to take a few estate planning steps before you leave the country for an extended period of time.
First, it is important to meet with your attorney in order to review your estate plan before you move. Although you may have crafted your estate plan with American laws in mind, your documentation will generally be subject to local foreign laws in the event that something happens to you while you are gone. However, your estate will remain subject to U.S. tax laws, so it is vital that you discuss the intersection of these two governing sets of regulations with your attorney. Understanding what the consequences of your situation may be will help you to anticipate any changes that may need to be made in advance of your journey.
Second, it is important to familiarize yourself with the laws that may govern your estate abroad in the event that you should die while residing outside the U.S. Similarly, you should understand how your end-of-life and power of attorney documentation will be received should you become incapacitated while overseas. Although understanding these potential scenarios may not change your move-related plans, they may influence the ways in which you approach certain legal and practical decision making now and into your near future.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “6 Estate-Planning Tips for U.S. Expats,” Jonathan Lachowitz, March 25, 2015