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How can I leave an inheritance to a non-resident spouse?

If you, your spouse or both of you are not residents of the United States, you already know that numerous aspects of life can be complicated. This is especially true when it comes to financial matters. You may be worried about planning your estate if one of you is a non-U.S. citizen. What happens to the property if the U.S. citizen dies first? You and other Florida residents may be interested in learning about this area of estate planning.

According to FindLaw, spouses may transfer property between each other without being subject to estate tax if both are U.S. citizens. This is called the marital deduction. However, the marital deduction does not apply if the spouse receiving the property is not a U.S. citizen. Why is this, you may wonder? The answer is that the U.S. government is concerned that non-residents will move to another country and take property with them that could be subject to gift and estate taxes.

To address this issue, you may consider putting the assets you wish your spouse to receive after your death into a qualified domestic trust, also known as a QDOT trust. This may protect the property from estate taxes. You can also consider another option while you are still living. Each year, you can transfer up to $100,000 of property to your spouse without the property being subject to gift taxes. In this way, you may bequeath assets to a non-resident spouse and protect the property from a significant tax burden upon your death.

Estate taxes and other matters are complex issues. Therefore, this blog is not intended as legal advice.

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