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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  How to overcome legal hurdles in international estate planning?
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How to overcome legal hurdles in international estate planning?

When drafting estate planning documents such as wills or trusts, individuals should carefully choose the governing law.

 International estate plans should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in personal circumstances, legal frameworks, and tax regulations.Premium
International estate plans should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in personal circumstances, legal frameworks, and tax regulations.

When dealing with assets in multiple jurisdictions, what legal considerations should individuals bear in mind for international estate planning? How can they address challenges like diverse inheritance laws and tax regulations to ensure seamless asset transfer across borders?

—Name withheld on request

International estate planning presents unique challenges due to diverse inheritance laws and tax regulations across multiple jurisdictions. Individuals engaging in such planning must consider several legal considerations to ensure seamless asset transfer across borders.

Understanding jurisdictional differences: Individuals must comprehend the inheritance laws and tax regulations of each jurisdiction where they hold assets or have beneficiaries. These laws govern how assets are distributed upon death and the tax implications involved. For instance, civil law countries may have different rules regarding forced heirship, affecting the freedom to distribute assets.

Choice of governing law: When drafting estate planning documents such as wills or trusts, individuals should carefully choose the governing law. Opting for a single governing law can streamline the administration process and provide clarity in case of disputes. However, conflicts of law may arise if assets are located in jurisdictions with different legal systems.

Utilizing international treaties and conventions: International treaties and conventions, such as the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on their Recognition, can facilitate cross-border estate planning by providing mechanisms for recognizing and enforcing foreign legal arrangements.

Structuring assets efficiently: Structuring assets in a tax-efficient manner is crucial for minimizing tax liabilities across jurisdictions. Individuals can utilize legal entities like trusts or holding companies to hold assets, taking into account tax treaties and local tax laws to optimize tax outcomes. Moreover, considering the impact of estate taxes, inheritance taxes, and gift taxes is essential in structuring asset ownership.

Seeking professional advice: Given the complexity of international estate planning, individuals should seek guidance from legal professionals specializing in cross-border matters. Estate planning attorneys with expertise in international law can navigate the intricate legal landscape, provide tailored solutions, and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Regular review and updates: International estate plans should be periodically reviewed and updated to reflect changes in personal circumstances, legal frameworks, and tax regulations. Changes in residency status, family dynamics, or legislative developments can necessitate adjustments to the estate plan to maintain its effectiveness and relevance.

Communication with beneficiaries: Clear communication with beneficiaries regarding the international estate plan is essential to manage expectations and facilitate a smooth transition of assets.

Aditya Chopra is managing partner and Amay Jain is senior associate, Victoriam Legalis—Advocates & Solicitors.

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Published: 22 Feb 2024, 08:37 PM IST
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