Do You Need to Estate Plan If You Are Not a Citizen?

So many people come to the United States to work, live, and even just to vacation. In truth, most visitors won’t need to think about estate planning in the United States if they will be returning home. However, if you own any property in the United States, either real estate or personal property like bank accounts, you need to have an estate plan in this country as well as your home country to handle it.

If you own anything in the United States, you will want to have a will valid in the state that property is in. This is crucial regardless of whether your heirs also live in the country or not. For example, if someone living in a foreign country purchases a vacation home in the United States, that home will be subject to the laws of the state in which the home exists at the time of death, regardless of where the person normally lives.  Similarly, most financial institutions will refuse to recognize the probate proceedings from a foreign country when being asked to release accounts belonging to a deceased foreign national. 

The good news is that estate planning in the United States need only cover the assets you have here. If the majority of your assets are in another country, they are governed by an estate plan in that country. When in doubt, what you need to do is get in contact with an estate planning attorney for your state. The unfortunate reality is that every state has different estate planning needs when it comes to taxes, ownership, and rights to property after you die.  By talking to a lawyer early, they can help you set up a solid estate plan that makes it easy to transfer assets to your heirs, even if they live in a different country.

Do you need help setting up a solid estate plan? Contact us today to see how Ford + Bergner can help you set up your heirs for success after you pass.