Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Estate Planning For A Mobile Society

Question: Are there any estate planning considerations for a person who wishes to move and live overseas?

Answer: We are a mobile society so more and more often, Americans like to travel and in many cases, live overseas.

We all know that it is important to have a Will as part of an estate plan to cover the distribution of their property. It is important to note that U.S. estate tax law applies to American citizens, regardless of domicile. Property owned in the U.S. and overseas are both included in the taxable estate of American citizens.

A U.S. Will disposes of property owned within the States. If property is owned overseas, the U.S. Will may not necessarily control the disposition of that property. It is, as well, a good idea for the American estate attorney to coordinate with an attorney in the other country regarding the acceptability of these documents for covering the expat or their property in that country. It can then be discussed whether additional documentation will be needed to control the disposition of property in that particular country.

For example, real estate in some countries often pass to blood heirs regardless of what the person’s Will provides.

Comment: A possible unintended consequence of having two Wills (U.S. and non-U.S.) is that it is possible if you execute two Wills, the Will executed later in time will revoke the earlier Will.  Coordination is therefore critical!



As always, if you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact Steve Shane at or 301.575.0313.


Steve Shane Casual | 301.575.0313

Steve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts, and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.





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