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The Estate Planning Process When You Own Property or Assets Out of the United States

transfer your house to a trust in estate planning process

The estate planning process can be complicated enough when everything you own is under one roof in your own hometown…

However, it gets trickier when you own property and other assets in foreign countries. If this is in addition to what you own in the states, the foreign asset estate planning process can get really tough.

There are a couple of ways to address estate planning for assets outside of the jurisdiction of the United States.

These foreign estate planning options include Ancillary Probate, Multiple Wills, and International Wills. What you will require depends on the legal differences and nuances based on which country your assets are in. Every country, much like every state in the U.S. has specific laws that must be known, addressed, and adhered to.

Often, your attorney in the States may work with an attorney in the country where assets are owned. Most often, for an American will to be considered valid in another country, it must usually be valid under the laws of the foreign country. On the other hand, some – not all – countries recognize and are willing to accept the validity American wills. Some countries only do so under specific circumstances.

There also may be ways to simplify the process of handling assets in multiple jurisdictions.

For instance, you may be able to put assets in a living trust. Using a beneficiary deed or adding an owner with joint survivorship rights to the asset can add protection.

The most important thing to consider when you are creating an estate plan and you own foreign assets is to make sure the attorneys you work with are thorough and exacting.

If you do own assets in a foreign country and would like to create an estate plan to include those assets for your beneficiaries, give my office a call at 404-370-0696. We are experienced in working with attorneys in other countries to this end as well as creating simplified trusts.


Looking to find an experienced estate lawyer in the Georgia area who is skilled in asset protection and estate plan preparation? Shannon Pawley is an attorney in Georgia with expertise in estate planning and asset protection. Shannon can provide assistance with creating an estate plan to include making a will and how to establish a trust properly. If you have questions about asset protection or questions about making an estate plan, reach out to Shannon and she will be glad to help answer all the estate planning questions you might have!

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