American citizens who are living temporarily or permanently outside of the United States have unique estate planning needs to protect themself and their loved ones if they become ill or die while living abroad. Cross-border international families who retain their U.S. citizenship must take into consideration the laws of their host country. American expats living in another country for years as temporary residents or as permanent residents are required to follow the laws of their country of residence. Expats who have property and other assets in more than one country or are dual residents of in their home and host country must work with an estate planning attorney who understands the inheritance laws of both countries and can create legal estate planning documents that are recognized in both countries.
Estate planning documents signed in one country may not be recognized in another country. A will legally executed in Illinois might not be recognized if you’re living in Europe, for example. However, your host country may have an agreement that applies to American residents. In the European Union, regulation 650/2012 allows EU residents to select their home country’s laws to govern probate and the distribution of their assets.
2. Healthcare Proxy
What if you become seriously ill while you live out of the country? What if you are traveling and become ill when you are in neither your home country nor your host country? Who has the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf?
Unfortunately, the global pandemic has given expats an increased awareness of the importance of executing an advanced healthcare directive or power of attorney in case you become seriously ill. Expats have to ensure that their healthcare directions will be followed if they are away from their primary place of residence. If you are seriously ill and require medical care, you don’t want to delay your treatment – or have measures taken that you do not want – because your healthcare directive was executed in another country.
If you are an American expat living outside of the United States, your estate planning attorney can make sure that your will and healthcare proxy comply with the laws of your host country. An organization such as American Citizens Abroad can provide valuable information for American citizens living overseas.
To make sure you are protected as an expat living outside of the United States, contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard, Illinois today at 630-864-5835.