"Estate planning" usually refers to the process of succession planning for the things you own, meaning how will your assets be managed or passed to others, upon your disability or death. Most often, it refers to an arrangement of wills and/or trusts of various kinds, powers of attorney, and living wills (also called advance medical directives). It can also include types of financial management during your lifetime, including such things as domestic asset protection trusts and other sophisticated trust vehicles. Also included in the broader definition of estate planning are guardianships (personal care of a minor or disabled person), and conservatorships (management of a minor's or disabled person's finances).
What about "international estate planning": What does that mean?
International estate planning can cover all the things included in estate planning in general, but applies where a person's family or assets do not all "reside" in the United States.
Today more and more people are employed by international companies and may be called upon spend long periods of time abroad - either with or without their families. Others look for a different life abroad, whether to be free of persecution, to make a better living, or simply to pursue a dream.
Some individuals may have married and raised a family in one country, yet later decide to return to their native country, although they have built up significant wealth and perhaps left heirs in
their adopted home.
There also has been an explosion in the number Americans and Europeans in particular who have purchased vacation homes abroad, thereby often subjecting themselves to local inheritance and
Most "cross border" clients who come to us have inadequate wills, trusts and other key estate planning tools to address the international complexities.
We strive to minimize these problems for our clients. Our services are generally of four kinds:
First, we provide a thorough analysis of the client's circumstances, so that going forward he or she will understand the ramifications of residency, domicile, asset ownership and asset transfer choices involving multiple national jurisdictions. International estate planning is enormously complex, and often there will not be a concrete answer as to how the disposition and taxation of a cross-border estate will eventually play out. However, having the knowledge always will better prepare the client going forward.
Second, if appropriate, we will provide an estate plan (wills, trusts and other devices) designed to troubleshoot and anticipate as many jurisdictional pitfalls as possible, such as double taxation, multiple probates, or having a foreign jurisdiction simply decline to honor the client's will or trust.
Third, we are more than happy to act as a consultant to a client's current lawyer with regard to the international estate planning, charity, immigration and family law matters.
Fourth, we will assist the client and/or counsel in locating a competent foreign lawyer, where necessary or appropriate.
International estate planning is not necessarily costly. Often modest changes in a client's documentation will troubleshoot a host of problems.
We always offer an initial consultation at no cost.