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Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 10:08 AM   #1
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Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Hoping some expat with all their financial ducks in a row will come to my rescue...

Before leaving, I talked to my mom's RI lawyer. He said a will is only valid in the state where you reside; if you move, the will is no longer valid.

I'm tempted to make at least a first pass at a will or trust, maybe using NOLO or Suze Orman-type software (I know you guys hate her, but I got an invaluable tip from one of her books).

People are going to say: consult a professional. For me, besides shelling out what I imagine to be big bucks, I'd also have to spend a lot of time and money traveling to a big city where these honchos have their offices (Rome, Milan..). "International law" would anyway seem to be synonymous with "we charge even more than a normal lawyer."

Can anyone at least throw a few ground rules my way? What do I need to be looking at/for? In Italy I know there are automatic succession rules and no estate tax (I think) so my husband should get the house we have here outright. But what about US accounts? I have some individual and some joint with him.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 11:42 AM   #2
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

I cant answer your question on the expat stuff, but I used the nolo/quicken willmaker plus software last year to prepare a whole gamut of documents from a will to medical directives and so forth and can offer a review of using that to at least expose the main questions to be asked and get the info on paper before consulting a lawyer.

It asked questions a reasonable person would understand, provided a 'legal manual' that stated in fairly plain talk what the pitfalls were and what to consider for each question, and then cranked out the stuff. I did one for my wife and I although we've still got some tweaking to do before we get the documents notarized. My dad took the one I did for him and let a retired lawyer that lives a few houses down from him look them over and he said they seemed well in order and there was nothing he'd have added to them.

Took about an hour to do the form filling, couple of hours of talking things over.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 11:57 AM   #3
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

(), now only if that NOLO software were available for the Mac...* * *

(No matter, my husband has a PC, poor blighter.) Seems cheap enough to a least make a start; worth having some hand-holding and at least an outline of the issues to then present to a professional if necessary.

Depends, though.. if I snuff it here in Italy, who wants to get their grimy hands on the matter? (Not talking about relatives, but about the state, feds, Italian gov't., etc.)* * *I assume NOLO will be limited to US scenarios.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:08 PM   #4
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

See, you have PC envy now. I know you do!

Just think about all that juicy cool software you could be using.

By the way, I have iTunes open right now on my PC and i'm ignoring it. Not going to use it. Just going to let it sit there and want to be used. Until it pines away.

Lot of good questions to ask yourselves before you get in front of someone charging you $500 an hour. We found out for example:

- You can have one person manage your money and your trust while someone else raises your kid.
- You cant pick a 'couple' to raise your children, you should name a single individual in the event of death or divorce. We knew a few couples in the family would do well as a pair, but had a hard time finding a single individual we'd feel comfortable with.
- Wait until you get to the parts about living wills, medical directives and what sort of ceremony you want done at your funeral. I figured my dad for the sentimental type, but his choices were about one notch above "tie me up in a hefty bag and throw me in the nearest river".

I'm quite sure the nolo software only applies to US situations.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:11 PM   #5
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Quote:
Originally Posted by ()
I figured my dad for the sentimental type, but his choices were about one notch above "tie me up in a hefty bag and throw me in the nearest river".
Darn, wish I'd thought of that. Time for a codicil!
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:27 PM   #6
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Quote:
I have iTunes open right now on my PC and i'm ignoring it. Not going to use it. Just going to let it sit there and want to be used.
Huh? And you are wasting performance on an open app you're not using.. what?.. out of spite!?!??!?


In this case, I assume the "software" isn't anything more glamorous or complicated than what you could get from xeroxing and pasting together paragraphs from a book, and writing your name and your beneficiaries' names in the blanks. No particular 'envy' as far as that is concerned.

If it is state-specific, though, I wonder if it is even worth looking at. If it starts out "Choose your state" it may be an exercise in frustration.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:29 PM   #7
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

For financial assets (e.g., Vanguard accts), you could hold them jointly with your husband. *In case of your demise, the ownership would pass directly to your husband (he would have to provide a notarized copy of your death certificate, suitably translated if necessary). *This is how my wife and her widowed mother ended up holding everything in the last few years, and when my MIL died, the transfer of financial assets was pretty simple.

For other assets in the US you don't want to hold jointly, you could hold them in a revocable living trust, with your husband as the beneficiary. *Similarly, with IRAs, 401(k)s, etc., you could name your husband as beneficiary, and ownership passes on without court intervention.

You can probably set up a revocable living trust in the US for $1000-2000, if you need it. *But if all your assets here are financial (no real estate, no Van Goghs), then you may not need a trust at all if you set up joint ownership and beneficiaries properly.

For Italian assets, though, you'd have to follow Italian law.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:35 PM   #8
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Robert, good to know that it was a simple process. All holdings are joint except IRAs which are individual. There's nothing else at the moment stateside.

Is a trust, therefore, only advisable in the case where there are assets not held in Joint Tenancy w/ Rights of Survivorship? I could make the IRA beneficiaries US citizens (friends/relatives) or charities, since the IRAs are not the lion's share.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 12:39 PM   #9
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina
Huh? And you are wasting performance on an open app you're not using.. what?.. out of spite!?!??!?
Because I have sooo much extra performance on my non crappy motorola machine that I can do so with impugnity. The good news is that pretty soon you can enjoy the best of both worlds!
http://www.wired.com/news/technology...=wn_tophead_13

Yes, the nolo stuff is state specific and one of the first things it asks is what state you reside in.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 01:24 PM   #10
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Quote:
you can enjoy the best of both worlds
And so can you. I heard about this a while back and am excited that some of the cross-platform development barriers will soon be broken down.

Of course, the sheer performance numbers bandied about in the PC universe are only raw processing numbers of a certain kind, and don't take into account inefficiencies of either the OS or the apps involved. As someone put it "RPM is a better automotive analogy for MHz: a Viper at 2000 RPM smokes a Neon at 5000 RPM."

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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 03:12 PM   #11
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

I would read up on the laws of where I was living... and I have no idea on what other countries say about death..

BUT, there are so many different laws in the various states that it is hard to know.. if you die without a will, then the STATE gets to say how your assets are distributed.. and this can lead to a lot of extra money to get it sorted out...

If you have ANY decent amount of assets, get a will !!!! It will save more money than it costs.
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 04:12 PM   #12
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Great ladelfina. Now I have to take my free time to figure out how to take care of stuff when I'm dead
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-12-2006, 05:37 PM   #13
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Hi ladelfina,

I think you have to worry about getting a will that satisfies Italian laws, first. So, probably no avoiding consulting an Italian lawyer, even if they are overpriced, unless you can find an Italian equivalent of Nolo. After that, get an English translation made that your executor can show to your US institutions. As I understand it, wills are generally respected across borders, at least in theory.

But don't take my word on any of this.

I have to admit that I haven't done anything about this myself yet, but do worry about it occasionally. Japan also has automatic succession rules, so something fairly reasonable would get done by default, but it still would be a good idea to at least make sure a list of assets is available to make the executor's job easier. In the meantime, I have made a list of account numbers and sent it to my father, just so that somebody knows where the bones are buried.

You might also try asking KenM over on raddr's board. He has brought this issue up a few times, and done some looking into the issue of assets in multiple jurisdictions.

Bpp
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-13-2006, 02:47 AM   #14
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Thanks bpp; you're probably right about generating something on the Italian side and then translating it. I will look into that.

Do you have an URL for "raddr's board"? Googled "raddr" and got a bunch of code. "www.raddr.com" led to a blank page. Maybe the server is just down for a bit, since at the moment it's 3:45am EST.

Also good advice about leaving a paper trail for someone to follow. Thanks again!
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-13-2006, 02:51 AM   #15
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

"never miiind..." Found it. (http://www.raddr-pages.com)
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-13-2006, 03:49 AM   #16
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

it varies from state to state..as an example florida dosnt recognize a new your will...if you live in new york and have a 2nd home in florida then when you die the florida home will end up being probated as if no will exists..you really need a seperate florida will for property in florida
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats
Old 01-13-2006, 10:12 AM   #17
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Re: Ok, another conundrum: wills & trusts for expats

Here is one suggestion I have that is pretty good if someone will do it and keep it updated...

I have had my mother prepare a 'death book' with all necessary documents, accounts, wishes etc. etc... she can put anything in the book and take it out at her whim.. so, if she opens a new account, in the book... closes one, out.. if she wants the china to go to sister number 2 now instead of number 1, in.. If she changes what she wants on her headstone, in...

I never look to see what is in the book and never will until it is time, but it will make life a lot easier at that time when you are not thinking as straight as you normally would.
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