Unexpected Questions of International Law Encountered in Probate of Florida Estates

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Unexpected Questions of International Law Encountered in Probate of Florida Estates

When the deceased person and all heirs are United States citizens and residents, one does not anticipate any issue involving international law. Yet sometimes they are found.

In one estate, the decedent vacationed frequently in Spain and opened a bank account there. A court order was entered in the Florida estate directing the transfer of funds from the account in Spain to the estate bank account in Florida. The bank for the estate processed the order and followed its procedures for notifying the Spanish bank of its request for the transfer. This was followed up by telephone conversations between the two banks. Yet the account was not transferred and no reason was provided for the failure to transfer. An attorney in Spain had to be retained by the estate to get the Spanish bank to transfer the money.

Often, it is difficult to get a U.S. bank to answer your question. When the bank is in another country, it is even more challenging. You have to overcome the difference in time zones, language, customs, and laws.

In another case, the deceased person owned stock in a company which was incorporated in a foreign nation. Under the laws of that country, the stock was viewed as property located in its jurisdiction and a form of probate in the foreign country was required before the corporation would re-issue stock in the name of the heir. In some cases, this may be fairly simple such as having the Florida documents apostilled by a foreign court. In others, you may be required to open an ancillary administration in the foreign country. If the foreign country imposed an estate tax, the stock would have been subject to it.

The fact that an heir may be a citizen and resident of a foreign country will not prevent the heir from receiving the inheritance, except when the heir lives in Cuba. For those heirs, a special account is opened in the United States, but the inheritance is not sent to Cuba.

Estate taxes are not included in this blog, except to note that non-resident aliens leaving property in the United States do not have the same benefits as a citizen. Contact your local Miami probate attorney, Susan E. Durre today to learn more about dealing with International Law for probate in Florida.

Categories: Probate

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