International Estate Planning in Orlando
Assisting the Orlando Immigrant Population with Estate Planning
The Department of Homeland Security's 2012 Yearbook of Immigrant Statistics reports that 1,031,631 immigrants obtained green cards and became lawful permanent residents in the U.S., and 103,047 of those immigrants settled in Florida. As large as these numbers are, they are even more impressive when taken in tandem with the 757,434 immigrants who became naturalized citizens in 2012, and of those naturalization proceedings, 100,890 occurred in Florida. Given that so many people in Florida either are immigrants or have loved ones who were born abroad, it is important to account for the impact of immigration legal issues when engaging in estate planning. At Jackson Law, we are uniquely qualified to assist you with developing an estate plan that addresses such unique legal issues, and we are ready to take immediate action on your case.
Foreign Wills Must Be Executed Under Florida Estate Planning Law
Many U.S. investors today are foreign nationals who make the mistaken assumption that because they have a will or a trust in their own country, their assets in this country will automatically transfer to their beneficiaries upon their death. Estate planning instruments executed under the laws of a foreign country are not necessarily effective in the probate courts of Orlando and the rest of the United States. If you expect your will or trust to come into effect upon your death, it must be drafted in a way that complies with the requirements of Florida estate planning laws. In addition to having a legally valid will, trust or other estate planning strategies in place, it is also important to take into account the special rules that apply to the taxation of inheritance for members of the immigrant community.
One example of the different tax laws for foreign-born individuals in the United States has to do with the estate tax. While Florida does not impose its own inheritance tax, Orlando residents may still be required to pay an estate tax to the Internal Revenue Service. For U.S. citizens, the estate tax exclusion is $5,250,000, meaning that the tax does not apply to cases where the estate is valued at less than this amount. For a non-U.S. citizen resident or foreign national, however, the exclusion is far lower, only $60,000. Consequently, the estate may be taxed at a rate of 40 percent or more.
Qualified Domestic Trust (QDOT)
There are many strategies that an Orlando estate planning attorney from our firm may be able to use to minimize your tax liability in light of your status as a non-resident alien or lawful permanent resident. One of these is the qualified domestic trust (QDOT). The issue that the QDOT is utilized to address has to do with the marital estate tax deduction. Under federal law, a spouse can inherit from a deceased husband or wife an unlimited amount without any tax liability, but this is only possible if the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen. If he or she is a lawful permanent resident or holds a non-immigrant visa, different rules apply.
By establishing a QDOT, it is possible for the inheriting spouse to postpone payment of the estate tax until the time he or she passes away. Depending on the circumstances, taking this measure could provide the immigrant spouse with tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, or more, in an inheritance, rather than having to see a large percentage of the estate absorbed by federal taxes.
To learn more about this and other estate planning strategies that we can use for you, contact us now for an initial consultation.
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