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May 03, 2012

Americans with Overseas Property Face Multiple Estate,Tax Planning Challenges



McManus & Associates, a trust and estates law firm, has released a report outlining 10 major tax challenges faced by non-U.S. residents, as well as Americans who own property overseas.

The report addresses both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens who may own or inherit overseas assets, those who wish to have overseas relatives serve as guardians for minor children, and those who have foreign family members looking to acquire property in the country.

“Protecting your wealth and your family as an immigrant is a unique, complex process that requires consistent surveying of the landscape for changes in estate and tax planning,” said John O. McManus, founding principal of McManus & Associates.

One major issue that McManus highlighted in the report involves non-domestic guardianship of children. The report suggested that, in addition to making guardianship and custodial preferences clear in the will, people who want to grant guardianship of children to non-domestic citizens should appoint temporary guardians in the U.S. to facilitate the transfer.

The report also highlighted gifting issues between spouses where one spouse is a non-U.S. citizen. While spouses who are both U.S. citizens can gift an unlimited amount of cash or property to one another during their lifetimes, U.S. citizens can only gift up to $139,000 annually to foreign spouses.

McManus suggests putting assets in the spouse’s name to avoid a tax on gifts given.

McManus has a number of recommendations for both U.S. citizens who wish to emigrate elsewhere and for people from other countries who want to buy property in the U.S. but not to become U.S. citizens.

Green card holders who wish to emigrate from the U.S. to another country may be subject to onerous exit taxes. McManus suggests that people wishing to emigrate give up their green card and apply for a non-immigrant visa.

McManus also recommends that non-resident/non-U.S. citizen property owners should consider purchasing their properties through a foreign corporation to avoid both estate and gift tax exposure. If a NRNC leaves property to a U.S. citizen, inheritance is not subject to either estate tax or income tax.

“From issues that impact protective trusts for the surviving non-U.S. citizen spouse to planning with foreign assets to avoid U.S. estate tax, McManus & Associates stays abreast of issues pertinent to noncitizens and citizens with property overseas,” McManus concluded. He discussed the report with clients as well as changes resulting from Eighth Annual International Estate Planning Institute.




Edited by Braden Becker
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