In today’s society, it’s not uncommon for couples to meet all over the world. Sometimes, a person’s spouse is a citizen of a foreign country.
A husband could be an immigrant from Mexico or Canada, who’s been living in the U.S. for many years. While basic estate planning is critical for everyone, there may be some extra hurdles for a couple with a spouse who’s a citizen of another country.
nj.com’s recent article, “Not a citizen? These estate planning rules matter,” points out that whether or not a spouse is a citizen of the United States is important for estate planning.
Speak to an estate planning attorney with in-depth experience in cross-border tax and estate planning. He or she will have deeper insight into the various transfer tax rules between the specific countries.
In addition, different rules apply to different family situations. For instance, if the wife is a U.S. citizen, all of her assets—regardless of whether they’re in the U.S. or Mexico—are subject to U.S. federal estate tax. However, for non-resident aliens, only certain assets held within the United States are subject to federal estate tax.
Those in this situation should also be aware of the lifetime estate/gift tax exemption. U.S. citizens have a lifetime exemption amount of $11.18 million per individual. Therefore, the first $11.18 million of their assets aren’t subject to estate tax. However, for non-citizens and non-residents, the exemption amount is just $60,000.
U.S. citizens also can transfer an unlimited amount of assets to their U.S. citizen spouse at death, without any estate tax consequences. If married to a non-resident, that unlimited marital deduction isn’t always applicable. However, you can gift up to $152,000 per year during your life to your non-citizen spouse.
It’s also worth noting that there are some strategies which can be used during a person’s lifetime to mitigate estate taxes. However, the right estate planning techniques depend on the specific situation.
Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney, as well as an accountant and financial planner before creating your estate plan.
Reference: nj.com (August 13, 2018) “Not a citizen? These estate planning rules matter”