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Non-citizens face a number of unique estate planning challenges. From determining how to protect assets located in other countries to understanding what impact United States law may have on your assets located in the United States, there is a complicated web of legal and practical considerations that warrant close attention. Whether you are a legal resident or foreign national with significant assets in the United States, South Florida estate planning attorney Steven Silverman can help you navigate these challenges and develop a fully-personalized estate plan focused on protecting your most valuable assets. 

Exemptions May Be Reduced or Unavailable

One of the main dangers you should be aware of is that many of the exemptions available to U.S. citizens may not be available to you or may be significantly reduced. For example, there is no unlimited marital deduction if your spouse is a non-citizen. Only $157,000 of any transfer to your spouse will pass tax-free. Anything greater could result in a heavy tax burden when you die, as well as significantly reduce the value of your estate. 

Another example is that the basic federal estate tax exemption drops from $11.58 million to $60,000 if you do not reside in the United States. 

Similarly, as a non-citizen, you or your spouse may not be able to take advantage of the $11.58 million gift tax exemption and be limited to only $148,000. If you are looking to reduce the tax liability of your estate, this could require much greater long-term planning. 

The bottom line is that non-U.S. citizens face some sophisticated challenges when it comes to estate planning. To minimize the potential tax burdens on your estate, you need an experienced estate planning attorney who can develop an estate plan that will protect your assets for your future generations. 

Real Estate Considerations

For U.S. citizens, there is a presumption that any jointly owned real estate is owned equally by the spouses. This presumption does not apply to non-citizens, unfortunately, which means that the entire value of the property may be included in the value of your estate. Depending on the value of the property, this could significantly increase your estate tax liability. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you protect the value of your property so that it can be enjoyed by your heirs. 

Guardianship Considerations

If you have children, one of the most important elements of your estate plan should be identifying who will care for them after you have gone. For non-citizens, your first choice may be someone who lives in your home country. However, this can be quite complicated and requires careful planning. For example, you may need to draft a will for the sole purpose of identifying temporary guardians here in the U.S. that will be responsible for the care of your children during their transition to their new home out of the country. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you develop a plan that ensures your wishes will be respected and your children will be well cared for. 

Work with Estate Planning Attorney Steven Silverman

Mr. Silverman has over 35 years of experience helping citizens and non-citizens achieve their estate planning goals. If you are a non-citizen and would like to protect your estate and learn about your legal options, contact us today at 305-666-6111.