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Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2016 by Peter Klenk

Can Foreign Spouse Inherit EstateFrom Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: Can a non-citizen spouse inherit land from me, a US citizen, even while a non-resident?  My wife lives in India, but I have property in my name here in the United States.

Can a non-citizen spouse inherit from a US citizen? Certainly!

A non-citizen spouse living overseas can inherit from a US citizen, but it would be a good idea to have a clear estate plan.  A clear plan can make this process as easy and inexpensive as possible.  This is true no matter how large or small the estate. Further, the federal estate tax has some specific rules when a foreign spouse inherits a large sum of money.  The Federal Estate Tax applies only if your estate exceeds the Federal Estate Tax Exemption amount ($5,450,000.00 in 2016).

Setting Up A Trust So Foreign Spouse Can Safely Enjoy Your Estate.

If you are subject to the Federal Estate Tax, payment at your death can be avoided by using a QDOT Trust.  If drafted properly, a QDOT will allow the foreign spouse to avoid paying the estate tax.  These trusts must contain specific terms.  I would be happy to walk you through these requirements.

If your spouse handles your estate from outside the country, it might be wise to use a Revocable Trust.  Using this tool helps her avoid the probate process.  Though not impossible, probate is more complex while living overseas.  Further, it might be wise to set up a United States situs Irrevocable Trust.  This trust holds the foreign spouse’s inheritance, providing protection.  These trusts are especially helpful if your spouse lives in a country with high taxes or punitive laws.  This is a complex area with many options, so I suggest that we set up a free consultation to review your exact circumstance.

If you have further questions about property rights of foreign spouses as part of an Estate Plan, or any other questions about Estate Planning, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.

Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!

Peter Klenk, Esq.

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