Three Reasons International Families Should Consider Qualified Domestic Trusts

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What kind estate planning is advisable for individuals with a non US citizen spouse? In most cases, a decedent’s estate may be transferred to a US citizen spouse without any estate tax, thanks to a high exclusion amount for US citizen and permanent resident decedents in 2009 and an unlimited marital deduction. When a decedent’s spouse is a not a US citizen, however, the estate cannot claim the marital deduction—regardless of the citizenship of the decedent. That’s not a problem if a decedent’s estate is smaller than the applicable exclusion amount, or if the surviving spouse becomes a US citizen prior to filing an estate tax return. But what if you are a non resident alien and have an applicable exclusion amount of only $60,000? Or, what if your spouse doesn’t acquire citizenship in time? In this article, California estate planning attorney John C. Martin discuss three reasons why individuals with a non US citizen spouse should consider estate planning with QDOTs, and how to avoid several pitfalls.

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