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The Complex Labyrinth of rules and regulations, called International Estate Planning

With the world becoming smaller, more and more families find themselves in a place, some without even realizing it, where more advanced Multi-Jurisdictional planning and structuring is needed.

In today's world, it is common to have a family unit and family assets scattered across the globe, and it is imperative that they understand their global exposure and create a plan that maximizes the benefit of this global while reducing costs, confusion, and stress.

Understanding international laws is no longer only a concern for multi-national companies. Readily available second residency schemes, and the ease with which people can live, invest and do business outside of their home countries, has escalated the importance of understanding the impact of various laws on personal estates and current estate planning strategies and vehicles.

International estate planning is an area of planning endemic with potential pitfalls for the unwary and ill-prepared, with a complex labyrinth of rules, entirely out of proportion to the frequency in which most traditional estate planning practitioners confront them. This makes it a highly specialized area of practice, with little to no room for errors, as mistakes are very costly or impossible to correct.

International Estate and Asset Protection planning are called for when there are:

  • Foreign-located assets.

  • Scattered family,

  • The possibility of foreign-located deceased, and

  • Foreign-located beneficiaries.

With the multitude of changes to international or multi-jurisdictional laws and regulations, most professional firms such as financial services, attorneys, accountants, and auditors are not as up to date or focused as they would like to be , on International Tax, International Estate Planning, International transactional banking or international asset protection rules and laws.

Compounding to this already confusing area of planning, planners must also regularly contend with numerous tax treaties and multi-jurisdictional tax and inheritance rules.

International estate planning is about ensuring that your beneficiaries and your family’s offshore wealth are in good hands in the event of your death, and that your estate will be in an optimal tax position. Your assets may be subjected to death taxes in different jurisdictions, referred to as “situs tax”, or “forced inheritance” rules depending on the jurisdiction the asset is invested in, as well as where the asset or structure is domiciled and registered.

People assume that when there are no Death Taxes in a jurisdiction, there is also no need to administer the estate (probate) in such a Jurisdiction. Numerous jurisdictions with no Death Taxes still require a person's estate to be administered (probate) in that jurisdiction, when for example immovable property is owned. With the assumption that was made that, no death tax applies most people will also not have a Last Will and Testament in such a jurisdiction, resulting in intestate succession rules being applied. Thirdly, no death tax, does not also mean that no forced inheritance rules, so-called "reserve portions", are legislated in such jurisdiction. Finally, most people do not know about or plan for SITUS tax.

Make sure your last wishes and intentions are fulfilled and not lost due to legislative or regulatory rules in another country; rules that you did not know about or did not understand.

In its most basic form, Estate and Succession planning can be defined as the process of arranging, managing, protecting, and transferring financial capital, as well as human capital from one generation to the next. So that one’s family and other beneficiaries may continue to enjoy the maximum benefit from one’s estate during one’s lifetime and after one’s passing or incapacitation, no matter where in the world the assets are. Simultaneously ensuring family value systems and principles are conveyed from one generation to the next.

Generally, people think that if they have a will and a trust, their estate planning is done. Remember however that, Multi-Jurisdictional Estate and Succession Planning is always about the small, technical details, for whilst planning for every thinkable scenario, we as professionals must maintain a backdrop of never assuming anything.

The need for proper analysis of the existing conditions prior to the design and implementation of a desired strategy has resulted in our MESPRA (Multi-Jurisdictional Estate and Succession Risk Analysis), a process that allows us to:

  • Review your entire structure, inclusive of establishment deeds, structural compliance, and corporate governance,

  • Identify any possible estate, succession, or tax planning risks, as well as

  • Review contracts and agreements, that you are party to that impact your succession or estate planning, for example, Shareholders’, Buy and Sell, or Trade Agreements, or Letter of Wishes, resulting in our

  • Development and Implementation of an International Estate Planning and Asset Protection Strategy.

Worst of all is that it is not only the planner that will have to deal with the labyrinth, but we have also met various heirs that were lost in this labyrinth due to the lack of planning. Wandering the labyrinth without a strategic map, wasting time, and losing assets along the way.                  

For more information feel free to contact UCHI on

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