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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

What are some concerns with foreign estate administration?

On Behalf of | Jan 13, 2021 | Estate Administration & Probate |

If a loved one who lives in a foreign country dies, there can be a few hiccups that you may come across involving his or her estate. The main issue is that you are operating under the laws of that foreign country while also having to adhere to U.S. law. 

As you can imagine, there are a few things you may need to watch out for and adjust your plans to encompass. 

More than one will

The American Bar Association explains that if the deceased had more than one will with each one in a different country, it can make things complex. Each jurisdiction will want to uphold the will that is valid in its country. However, if there was no coordination between attorneys drafting these wills, it could lead to only one having legal precedence or a court striking all wills. 

Having a will invalidated leaves intestacy laws to determine what happens with the estate. Foreign laws are not as straightforward as U.S. laws, which vary very little from state to state. They can cause results you may not expect. 


Taxation is another area where you will likely have some headaches. If the property of the deceased is in the foreign country, both that country and the U.S. are likely to want to charge taxes on it. It is incredibly beneficial to you as an heir if your loved one accounts for taxation in his or her estate plan. 

The U.S. does have some estate tax treaties with foreign countries that could make things easier. You will need to check into this and work with a professional who understands foreign estate taxation.