Probate for Foreign Nationals

If you are a foreign national and own property in Florida, estate planning may be especially important to you.  There are special requirements for non-United States citizens who own property in Florida at the time of their death.

A non-US citizen is anyone who was neither born in the United States nor naturalized under U.S. law. A non-US citizen may be someone who resides abroad (nonresident alien), someone who is in the United States temporarily (a resident alien) or someone with permanent residence in the United States (permanent resident).

When a non-us citizen owning real estate in Florida dies, the property must be probated in Florida if the property itself is subject to Florida probate law. Depending upon the laws of the foreign jurisdiction, a citizen’s will might need to be probated abroad as well.

In Florida, nonresident aliens who pass away while owning property in their individual name will have to go through an ancillary probate, which is similar to a formal probate process.  Foreign nationals who are also resident aliens, may have their estate be subject to probate in both Florida and their country of origin.  Even if the main administration of a person’s estate is based abroad, any property owned within the State of Florida is within the purview of Florida probate courts.

Sometimes the decedent’s country of origin may overlap and conflict with those of Florida.  Some nations require that all assets of their citizens be taxed, including those abroad. In effect this leads to double taxation minimizing the estate’s value.  However, resident aliens who are citizens of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom enjoy the right to not have their real property in the United States taxed by their country of origin.

Creating a revocable trust can be beneficial for those non-US citizens who own property in Florida. This is especially true if they are married to a United States citizen or  are in the United States on a visa or green card. The creation of a revocable trust will allow for the transfer or their interest in the property without requiring that the property be probated in Florida.

If you would like a free family assessment for assuring that your estate planning, real estate, long term care, and death directives are in place, call Attorney Linda Carley at 386-281-3340. Linda Carley has more than thirty years of legal experience, including serving as a probate judge.