If you are considering an international move, you should consider whether it will affect your estate plan. Moving across borders is a major decision, and it can have a major impact on everything from your power of attorney to taxes.
Estate, Probate, and Inheritance Laws Differ Among Countries
Countries have different laws concerning estate planning. For example, in some countries you need to have your will witnessed in a particular way or it must contain certain language to be recognized. Some countries do not recognize intestate succession for determining heirs if someone dies without a valid will. The language used in powers of attorney may need to change to account for differing laws or to incorporate appointments of multiple agents. Otherwise, your agent may be thousands of miles away when you need him or her to act.
In fact, depending on where you move and where your estate is likely to be probated, all of your estate planning documents and structures may need to be updated. In particular, your estate planning attorney will need to know if you still have property in your former country, whether you plan to sell or purchase property anytime soon, and if you plan to spend time in more than one country after you move. You may even need to hire a new estate planning attorney, as most attorneys are only qualified to practice law and provide legal advice in the country in which they are located.
Tax Laws Relating to Estates Differ Among Countries
While The Bahamas does not have an estate or inheritance tax, other countries do. These taxes can impact people who move to a new country or who spend part of their time in multiple countries. If you are not sure about the tax implications of moving, talk to an estate planning attorney or a tax professional in the country you are moving to. You may need to do some extra planning to account for the taxes, such as moving some assets into a trust. However, this will depend greatly on where you are moving and your asset situation, so get knowledgeable advice before you move property around.
Major Life Changes Trigger the Need for Estate Plan Updates
Whenever you experience a major change in your life, such as moving to a new country, you should review and update your estate plan. Your wishes may have changed since the last time you reviewed it. Also, you may have had other major life changes since then. Keeping your estate plan updated is important because of changing laws, different laws in different countries, and changing personal wishes over time.
To find out more about estate planning in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.
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