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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

When a foreign national dies and leaves behind assets in New York

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate |

New York is one of the most progressive and diverse states in the United States, giving people from all over the world career and educational opportunities. Foreign nationals set up bank accounts, invest in securities and even purchase real estate in New York, which all become part of their estate. If the foreign national dies, the heirs and beneficiaries can only access the estate assets once they obtain the legal right to collect the assets in their country of domicile.

The country of domicile is where the foreign national came from and intended to live permanently. When the heir or interested party acquires the legal authority, they can begin the process in New York. They present a petition to the New York Surrogate’s Court to get access to the estate and transfer the assets to their name, but that can only happen after an ancillary probate proceeding.

What is an ancillary probate proceeding?

An ancillary probate proceeding is when the New York court authenticates any relevant paperwork from the country of domicile and verifies the will. Once the court finds all documents are legitimate and valid, it will appoint a person in New York to be the estate administrator.

The term “ancillary” implies that it is a secondary proceeding, as the primary probate proceeding should have happened in the foreign national’s country of origin. Ancillary probate is usually for transferring ownership of a foreign national’s real estate in the United States to interested parties.

Estate planning can help foreign nationals transfer their assets

The foreign national can predesignate an executor from New York in their will to safeguard their best interests. They can also incorporate estate planning tools that can allow them to mitigate tax repercussions and other financial liabilities. An attorney with experience in dealing with estate issues in the U.S. for foreign nationals can help you understand the steps you can take to ensure a smooth and effective transfer of assets.