Warning for Holders of US Assets

If you hold assets in the USA, you should be aware of an issue that has started to arise in estates in which there are US shareholdings, especially where these are managed by brokers in the US.

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that any estate with US assets files an Estate Tax return, following which it will issue a certificate to give clearance for the estate assets to be released. Normally, this procedure, although often lengthy, is straightforward.

Recently, however, instances have been reported where brokers holding shares have demanded that estates register with the IRS as if they were financial institutions, in order to comply with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. This is a much more onerous administrative burden.

If your estate includes foreign assets (including properties), this can add to the complexity of its administration, the tax issues involved and, where there is a compulsory inheritance regime in force, inheritance issues.

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