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Estate Planning for International Estates - The Basics

In this post, we'll break down some important considerations for Canadians with foreign real estate investments. Maybe you have a vacation home somewhere warm or a place in the states.

According to Forbes, "One of the most important considerations is how to structure ownership of the [foreign] asset to maximize your estate and tax planning. This will depend on the laws of the country where the asset is located as well as your own citizenship."

By "maximize your estate and tax planning," they mean make a clear plan for who will receive your property and how to minimize taxes paid.

The first important thing to consider is that you need to be transparent with your attorney - make sure to disclose all of your assets. You may think that a home outside of Canada would not be relevant to a discussion with your local attorney. However, different countries have vastly differing tax policies and implications for those inheriting your property after you pass. It's best to make sure just in case.

Tempted by a smoking deal on a property in Cancun while on vacation? Be sure you understand real estate laws in the country you're buying in. In addition to bringing it up to your Canadian attorney, it might be helpful to get local counsel in the area. According to the aforementioned Forbes article, "some countries do not recognize trusts which could have serious tax implications if you have a U.S. will transferring all your assets to a trust. Local counsel is also needed to represent you with the purchase and transfer of real estate."

Finally, it might be useful in some situations to have two wills, according to that same article. You wouldn't want a messy situation where your Canadian and foreign attorneys don't know about each other after your passing. In some situations, probating a will in a foreign language will be easier if you have a lawyer that speaks the language fluently.

If you're interested in legal representation from a credible Downtown law firm, take a look at our website or give us a call at 604-674-7755.

Bijan Law is a general practice law firm in Downtown Vancouver. We can help you out whether you're entering a partnership for investment, starting or purchasing/selling a business, want to keep wealth within your family, immigrate to Canada, or resolve a dispute.

Note: these blog posts are written by a communications professional and are not intended to be legal advice. One of our lawyers would be glad to help if you have a specific issue in mind.


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Fax: 604-564-5775

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Bijan Law Corporation

Suite 1801 - 701 West Georgia Street

PO Box 10107 LCD Pacific Centre

Vancouver, BC

Canada V7Y 1C6