Wills and Trusts
Estate planning for international individuals is significantly more complex than for domestic clients. The laws of which jurisdiction will govern the estate? Which assets will pass according to which laws? Will a testament be accepted by the courts of another country? Which marital regime applies to the assets of the couple? Is there a tax treaty that modifies the otherwise applicable rules? What are the tax consequences in each situation?
After analyzing your needs, wishes and all legal constraints, we set up a comprehensive estate plan for you. This usually consists of a will, one or several trusts, as well as recommendations regarding jointly titled property and financial account beneficiary designations.
Depending on the complexity of their situation most clients choose one of our three estate plan packages.
We advise relatives of persons deceased in the Washington DC area on settling the estate: we represent heirs and relatives in the court-supervised probate proceeding regarding all administrative matters, and advise on liquidating the household, paying the decedent’s debts, as well as discovering and distributing the assets.
If there is no available relative, we may also act as personal representatives of estates in Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia.
We also advise US-based heirs and legatees who inherit property in Germany. Please visit our dedicated website GermanInheritance.com.
German-language clients who inherit assets in the United States please visit our dedicated website erben-USA.com.
If no relatives or friends are available, we may act as personal representatives of estates in the United States. In these cases we notify all involved authorities, manage the probate process, settle the decedent’s debts, collect the outstanding claims, liquidate the household, sell the assets as needed, file the personal and estate tax returns, take care of all administrative procedures and distribute the assets to heirs and legatees according to the will or the intestate succession laws.
In rare cases we also act as trustees.
International families often require careful and comprehensive tax and estate planning.
What is the most tax-efficient way to hold assets such as brokerage accounts, businesses and real estate? What estate and inheritance taxes face the legatees of non-US citizens who have assets in the United States? How to deal with assets held outside the United States? After analyzing your situation we recommend tailored solutions. Read more…
Trust and Estate Litigation
We represent heirs, other legatees, personal representatives, trustees and trust beneficiaries in related litigation in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Maryland and Germany. Such conflicts may involve will challenges, actions against fiduciaries, or against debtors of the estate. Read more….
Business Succession Planning
Planning a business succession requires careful tax planning to minimize disruption and ensure that the wishes of the owner are carried out while maintaining fairness and the desired degree of control. Read more…
All US citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) have to pay US taxes on all of their worldwide income, even if they do not live in the United States. Foreign financial assets have to be reported when filing the yearly income tax return.
We assist clients with disclosing foreign financial assets and maintaining tax compliance in the US. Read more…
Protecting assets from creditors can be achieved in many ways. This may require setting up irrevocable trusts while striving to maintain control over these assets. Most effective asset protection measures have far-reaching consequences and therefore have to be considered thoroughly. In many cases spousal consent is required.
The simplest way of protecting assets is through joint titling among spouses: assets titled as “tenancy by the entirety” cannot be accessed by the creditors of only one spouse, but only if there is a judgment against both spouses.
Retirement accounts are normally not accessible by creditors.
Furthermore, many risks can be covered by adequate insurance, such as malpractice or umbrella liability insurance.
We advise on the estate planning measures that an individual should take prior to immigrating to the United States, such as retitling assets and/or moving assets to independent structures. Making the appropriate arrangements in advance can yield significant benefits after settling in the US.