Whether we like it or not, the world is getting smaller and we are all part of what is increasingly a Global Community. Many U.S. citizens now reside abroad, whether by choice, employment, or military assignment. If you are a U.S. citizen residing overseas, you face unique estate planning challenges. Among them is the possibility that you may be required to pass assets on to people other than those whom you would choose.
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted this issue of forced heirship “in many parts of the world, notably the Middle East, where Islamic law predominates, and continental Europe.” Forced-heirship rules mandate that proportions of an estate be left to certain family members, and in some countries these rules apply to all residents, even U.S. citizens.
If you, or someone you love, reside overseas, you are well-advised to consult with a U.S. attorney as well as a local lawyer in the jurisdiction in which you are living. Additionally, you may want to keep as little wealth as possible in your country of temporary residence.