Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Monday, November 17, 2014

International Estate Planning


While estate planning is crucial for almost everyone, if you have international ties, you have even more reasons to take the time to carefully plan your estate.  Whether you are part of an international family, married to a non-citizen, or you live abroad, here are four reasons to look into international estate planning:

  1. Decrease your tax burden. Non-citizens of the United States must follow different estate tax and gift tax laws.  If you own property abroad, you could end up getting taxed twice, in two different countries.  These are just a few rules that illustrate why you should seek guidance on your international estate plan.
  2. Prevent confusion and delay. If you fail to plan your estate, the red tape could delay your loved ones in getting the support they need.  Worst case, it could prevent your loved ones from getting what you wished.
  3. Shield wealth and property. When you forego planning your estate, it is left in the hands of the government.  If you have international property, the future of your assets depends heavily on where they are located, and estate law can vary from country to country.
  4. Protect children. If you want your children to have a guardian who lives abroad, it is essential you plan your estate so your guardianship wishes are clear.  International families should appoint both a temporary and permanent guardian.

See Janet Brewer, Four Great Reasons For International Estate Planning, JD Supra, Nov. 17, 2014. 

November 17, 2014 in Estate Administration, Estate Planning - Generally, Estate Tax, Gift Tax, Guardianship, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Worst Countries for Older Residents


There are approximately 868 million people across the globe who are at least sixty years or older.  This comprises about twelve percent of the world’s population and by 2050, it is estimated that more than two billion people, or 21% of the global population will be sixty or older. 

HelpAge International recently ranked the social and economic well-being of older residents in ninety-six countries in the “Global AgeWatch 2014 Index.”  The report rated each country on four broad factors important to an aging population: supporting income security, fostering good health, employment and education, and the overall environment for older residents.  While Norway was rated the best country for elder residents, Afghanistan was rated the worst country for older people for the second consecutive year.  Provided below are the worst countries to grow old in according to the report:

  1. Afghanistan
  2. Mozambique
  3. West Bank and Gaza
  4. Malawi
  5. The United Republic of Tanzania
  6. Pakistan
  7. Jordan
  8. Uganda
  9. Zambia
  10. Iraq

See Alexander E.M. Hess and Thomas C. Frohlich, The Worst Countries to Grow Old In, USA Today, Oct. 12, 2014.

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.

October 13, 2014 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 19, 2014

EU Finds Spain's Taxes Discriminatory

EU Court

The European Court of Justice recently ruled that Spanish authorities cannot charge different rates of inheritance tax for residents and non-residents.  In Spain, there are a complex range of tax relief options that can reduce the tax to zero for residents, however, these have previously been unavailable to non-residents.

 Non-residents who have been discriminated against by paying more tax than Spaniards for inheritances or gifts of property will likely be owed a refund of the difference.  The verdict earlier this month could open the floodgate to thousands of people reclaiming their tax.  Thus far, the Spanish authorities have not responded to the ruling.  Spain has six months to change its laws, which should come by January 2016.   

The reason for the decision rested on the notion that charging other members of the EU different rates to Spanish residents went against the spirit of the European union.  The court said the Spanish legislation was discriminatory and there was no reason why inheritance tax should be charged at a higher rate for non-Spaniards than for Spaniards. 

See Liz Phillips, EU Court Rules Against Spain Over Discriminatory Tax Rules, The Telegraph, Sept. 18, 2014.

September 19, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Gift Tax, New Cases, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The World’s Seven Best Retirement Locations

BeachAccording to the 2014 Retire Overseas Index, 1.4 million Americans are choosing to retire overseas. Here are the seven best retirement locations in the world, based on cost-of-living, climate, healthcare, crime statistics, and other quality of life criteria:

  1. The Algarve, Portugal
  2. Cuenca, Ecuador
  3. George Town, Malaysia
  4. Chiang Mai, Thailand
  5. Dumaguete, Philippines
  6. Pau, France
  7. Medellin, Colombia

See Richard Eisenberg, The 7 Best Places to Retire Around the World, Forbes, Aug. 25, 2014.

August 27, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Law Urges Samsung to Spend

Samsung logo

Samsung Electronics Co. is sitting on a cash pile that is 58 percent larger than Apple Inc.’s treasure chest.  The message to South Korea’s biggest company is “use it or lose it.” 

The government of President Park Geun Hye published plans for a ten percent tax on what should be either spent on wages and investment or distributed to shareholders.  The levy could affect Samsung, which had the equivalent of $60 billion in cash and short-term investments compared to Apple that had $38 billion. 

Moon Chang Yong, head of Korean Tax Bureau, said “We’re trying to give a signal here . . .The aim is to create a virtuous cycle and recirculate corporate earnings back to households.”

Yet under the new rule, companies are unlikely to increase investments, dividends or wages significantly.  “Companies may prefer to use their internal cash reserves rather than sell bonds when they need capital expenditures and that’s what the government wants.”  As for now, it is uncertain whether the new law will lead to increases in investments and wages.

See Kyungji Cho and Cynthia Kim, Samsung Told by Korean Tax Man To Use Apple Topping Cash, Bloomberg, Aug. 20, 2014.

August 22, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, August 11, 2014

KiwiSaver the Ideal Retirement Plan

New Zealand

America is undeniably facing a retirement calamity.  Millions of boomers fear that they will outlive their savings.  Yet many retirement experts think New Zealand may have answers that may help avert a crisis here.   

Although New Zealand has a population of just 2% of ours, it has a similar swell of postwar boomers who were not the greatest savers.  However, the huge difference lies in the seven-year popular voluntary KiwiSaver retirement savings plan that is helping to transform its country into a nation of savers.  Everyone can have a KiwiSaver plan for life, and its transferable from job to job.  This is different from plans in the U.S. because how much you save for retirement, depends greatly on whether you work for an employer with a 401(k) type savings plan or pension plan.  “Only about half of the U.S. workforce actually has access to an employer retirement savings plan or pension.” 

The KiwiSaver has been “the most successful savings scheme in the last 100 years.”  Since its inception, 2.3 New Zealanders have signed up.

See Richard Harris, Why New Zealand’s Retirement System Works So Well, Market Watch, Aug. 5, 2014.

August 11, 2014 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Non-Probate Assets, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Retirement Living Abroad


Many Americans dream about living overseas, yet do not realize that living is different than visiting.  Before you retire to a foreign country, consider not just weather and cost of living, but also healthcare; safety; tax and visa requirements; and how friendly the country is to foreigners.  Depending on your goals, here are some possibilities:

  • Establish a base for traveling abroad.  Culture, history and cuisine make Europe a popular draw for many North Americans.  Yet, if high dollar areas like Paris are not in your budget, consider a place where your money will go further.  These may include Brussels, Vienna and Dublin.  You may even consider areas throughout Spain. 
  • Experience a small-town life.  This idea can be appealing to people seeking foreign culture in a more intimate setting.  Colonials are grabbing cottages that have come on the market as the French and Italian countryside grays.  Prices are stagnant in both countries, thus the areas offer great values. 
  • More bang for your buck.  Mexican cities of San Miguel de Allende, Cuernavaca and Guanajuanto have been popular with cost-conscious retirees.  Those loving eco-tourism are also drawn to Costa Rica and Ecuador. 

See Deborah L. Jacobs, The Best Foreign Retirement Havens, Forbes.


August 6, 2014 in Elder Law, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Succession Planning in Taiwan

Taiwan Man

After starting with almost nothing, successful entrepreneurs now run some of Taiwan’s largest companies.  These firms have helped propel Taiwan’s rapid economic growth over the past decades, and are crucial to maintaining the island’s future. 

Yet some analysts estimate that only one third of these family run companies, which account for up to 90% of the island’s business, have a succession plan.  “In Taiwan, though, it’s still the emperor’s style of succession.  No-one outside can tell what will happen—it’s the founder’s decision.”

It is a traditional Chinese approach for founders to divide the family firm up between their children however, this tradition has divided companies.  Many Taiwanese companies have become so large that younger family members have been incapable of taking a leadership role.  “Family businesses are definitely very important in Taiwan and across Asia because they control a lot of resources . . . And if they make the wrong decisions . . . the whole economy will suffer a lot.”  Because many first generation entrepreneurs are workaholics, they have difficulty relinquishing their position as they want to make major decisions for their company.  Consequently, their successor does not have the opportunity to handle the whole company. 

See Cindy Sui, The Tricky Business of Succession Planning in Taiwan, BBC News, July 30, 2014.

July 31, 2014 in Estate Planning - Generally, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

CLE on International Trust and Estate Planning

CLE Photo

The American Law Institute Continuing Legal Education (ALI CLE) is holding a CLE entitled, International Trust and Estate Planning, on October 20-21 in San Francisco, CA.  Here is why you should attend:

If you provide tax and trust advice to U.S. clients with international connections or to foreign clients with U.S. connections (or you don’t currently counsel such clients, but wish to start doing so), you must attend this program! 

Set in San Francisco, International Trust and Estate Planning comprises more than 13 hours of instruction, including two hours of ethics, and gives attendees the tools they need to not only stay competitive, but also to practically advise clients on rapidly-changing legislative, regulatory, and enforcement developments in this complex area. 

An all-star faculty – including a representative of the Internal Revenue Service who addresses current offshore compliance and enforcement initiatives – examines the practical application of the complex U.S. income, gift, and estate tax rules affecting noncitizens living or investing in the U.S., or U.S. clients with foreign property, foreign financial accounts, interests in foreign entities, or who are beneficiaries of foreign trusts or trust-like vehicles. The course also includes segments focusing on country-specific developments outside the U.S., and multi-national initiatives related to tax compliance, bank secrecy, and the prevention of money laundering.         

In addition to the critical substantive information presented through an engaging, interactive format, registrants have the unique opportunity to discuss their legal questions and network with faculty members and attendees from around the world.

July 20, 2014 in Conferences & CLE, Estate Planning - Generally, Travel, Trusts | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Article on the U.S. Foreign Death Tax Credit


Brandon A.S. Ross (Proskauer Rose LLP) recently published an article entitled, Practical Pointers to Obtain the U.S. Foreign Death Tax Credit, 28 Prob. & Prop. 60 (May/June 2014).  Provided below is the introduction:

With the rise of internationalization, the use of the U.S. foreign death tax credit (the “Credit”) has grown.  The Credit is available for U.S. citizens or residents to avoid double taxation of certain property located outside of the United States at death.  The Credit applies to a transfer of property at death that is subject to a transfer tax substantially similar to the U.S. federal estate tax levied by the foreign country, state, jurisdiction, or political subdivision based on the property’s location in that foreign jurisdiction.  For purposes of this article, the terms “foreign country,” “state,” “jurisdiction,” or “political subdivision” are used interchangeably.  The Credit’s usefulness has increased as society has globalized and advances in technology have made the world smaller.  Despite the Credit’s enlarged role in estates, guidance for the Credit’s use from the IRS, the Department of the Treasury, and the courts is scarce.  This article offers some practical pointers to obtain the Credit.

May 8, 2014 in Articles, Estate Tax, Travel | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)