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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

Administering a foreign will in New York

On Behalf of | Jun 8, 2020 | Estate Planning |

New York attracts property owners from around the globe. Whether the property includes real estate, art or other assets, if you are the executor of an estate held by a foreign national residing in the United States, the estate must pass through probate. We ensure our clients have the support and understanding necessary for the administration of estate owned by a foreign national.

According to the Federal Bar Association, ancillary probate is in addition to primary probate proceedings. During this process, the Surrogate’s Court may appoint a person to help manage the New York portion of the estate.


Probate takes place in the county in which the property lies. Requirements for a valid will include the following:

  • The testator (deceased) signed the end of the document
  • Two witnesses can attest to the signing
  • The testator confirms the presence of the witnesses
  • The witness signatures are at the testator’s request

The ancillary proceedings only address the property in New York and the ancillary executor can legally transfer the property to the appropriate beneficiaries.


The court places a tax lien on real estate immediately, and you can access property once creditors and taxes are current. The tax amount depends on the country in which the deceased had citizenship. Seventeen countries have estate tax treaties with the U.S., which affects the exclusion of assets. There is also a difference in taxes based on whether an entity or individual holds the property.

Probate and estate administration of a foreign national is complex and each situation is unique. By working with experienced professionals, foreign executors can minimize the time and cost of administering a foreign estate.