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Estate planning can have international challenges

Unfortunately, there are many situations in which family members engage in a will contest or argument over the distribution of assets of a loved one. Sibling rivalries, marriages and divorces, religious differences and more can all be at the root of a battle over an estate. Even people with wills in place before they die cannot ensure that their heirs face no complications after they are gone.

A recent news article brings forward a more esoteric estate planning situation that has the potential to become an issue in our country. If a deceased person’s heirs live in a country which is subect to economic sanctions by the United States, the complexity of any estate administration or distribution increases dramatically.

Our nation has many citizens and residents from countries such as South Korea, Iran and China. In the event of their death, they may legitimately have heirs living in their native countries. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act can block many financial transfers from the U.S. to such countries. A lawsuit between family members in both South Korea and North Korea resulted in a judgement awarding sharing of the estate among all siblings yet doubt lingers as to the viability of the money actually being paid to the relatives in North Korea.

People with family members in countries such as Iran or Cuba have special considerations to keep in mind when creating an estate plan. Working with an experienced attorney can be a good way to protect assets for you and your surviving heirs.

Source: Wall Street Pit, “When inheritance requires trading with the enemy,” Larry M. Elkin, August 18, 2013

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