Estate Planning with Property Outside the United States

How Do You Plan Your Estate If You Have Property Located Outside the U.S.?

A common concern for U.S. citizens who own real property in a country outside the U.S. is, “How do I plan my estate when I have real property located outside the U.S.?” If this concern is not well planned, there may be a risk of being taxed by both the U.S. and the country where the property is located. Another risk may be that the property outside the U.S. will be devised according to that country’s laws for intestacy.

On occasion, a U.S. Will may be recognized in another country if the Will satisfies the Will formalities required by that country where the property is located. On the other hand, some countries do not allow recognition of Wills drafted in any country under any circumstances, whatsoever. One way to carefully plan your estate would be to draft an International Will.

International Wills

International Wills were created in 1973 by the enactment of the Uniform International Wills Act (“UIWA”), for the purpose of making estate planning with international property relatively straightforward. When an International Will is properly prepared, the Will is deemed valid in any country that has signed or enacted the UIWA. For an International Will to be valid, the Will, among other things, must:

  • (1) Have only one beneficiary;
  • (2) Be in writing, in any language;
  • (3) Be witnessed and signed by 2 witnesses and an attorney (not a notary); and
  • (4) Be signed at the end of the will, and initialed on the bottom of each page.

An additional layer of protection for an International Will may be for a U.S. citizen to draft a Supplemental Will in the country where the property is located, and reference this Supplemental Will within the International Will, to guarantee no confusion regarding the disposition of property.

Countries That Have Signed or Enacted the Uniform International Wills Act.

The following Countries have signed or enacted the UIWA include: Australia, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Cyprus, Ecuador, France, Iran, Italy, Laos, Libya, Niger, Portugal, Russia, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, United Kingdom, and the U.S. Additionally, in the U.S. estate succession laws are governed under State laws, individual states were also required to enact the International Will, which 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted.

If you want to prepare an estate plan which includes an International Will for real property located outside of the U.S., please contact us at (786) 837-6787 or email us to set up a meeting so we can discuss how to protect your property.

*Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*