Estate planning for expats

Estate planning for expats

If you are an expat who wants to safeguard your assets and make sure that your loved ones benefit fully from the legacy you leave behind, professional estate planning can give you this peace of mind.

You choose

Living abroad subjects you and your family to new laws and regulations, but it can also allows you to avoid some nasty and unnecessary taxes. We can provide you with solutions to help organise your assets and cash in a way that minimises your exposure to taxation, including inheritance taxes as well as protecting you from unwelcome claimants.

Offshore investment plans that we recommend to our expat clients are not subject to the succession or forced heirship laws of your home country and enjoy complete confidentiality. This means that as an expat, your choice of beneficiaries cannot be contested.

Even if your home country does not have Inheritance Tax laws, your death is likely to involve the time consuming legal process that requires beneficiaries to prove their entitlement to your assets. This is known as probate and can be completely avoided by expats who structure their assets appropriately.


Property is a popular investment with expats but it is bound to the jurisdiction of the country where it is located. What happens to this upon your death? If you are an expat who owns property that you wish to pass on to your loved ones and without tax, we can help.

Property cannot be relocated ‘offshore’ but as an expat, the ownership structure can be arranged in such a way that your death results neither in tax nor probate. This is something often overlooked by expats and results in some regrettable loss when they pass their estate onto their families.

Trusts - leaving a lasting legacy

You may have spent your whole life building up a significant estate and making some wise decisions to safe guard it, but what happens after you are no longer in control. Not all beneficiaries of expats are able to prudently manage what are often very large legacies. Placing assets into trust and other similar structures can provide a vital element of prudence. The actual choice of vehicle will depend on the citizenship and or country of residence of expats and their beneficiaries as well as the value of your estate.

Knowledgebase: Trusts

Trusts are probably one of the best known forms of estate planning, the purpose of which is asset protection.

When a person transfers assets into a trust their main objectives are to;

Moving assets into a trust can also simplify the management of those assets. Trusts also avoid the need for probate that arises on the death of a person.

You elect how the trust income is to be applied. You also elect how and when trust capital should be distributed.

Placing assets into a trust allows expats to exercise considerable control over their estate and can be a very effective way of protecting your beneficiaries from themselves.

Knowledgebase: Foundations

Foundations are a less well known asset protection tool than trusts which in some cases can provide greater safeguards than trusts.

As with trusts, the main objectives of a foundation are to;

Foundations can simplify your financial planning and estate planning and also avoid the time-consuming process of probate. As with trusts they also permit considerable control over the assets and income of the foundation.

But foundations have features which can make them a better choice for asset protection and succession planning.

Time limits

Many jurisdictions apply time limits for holding assets in trust. Foundations can be set up to continue for ever.


A foundation is a legal entity, whilst a trust is not and so some jurisdictions do not recognise trusts in law. This means that in these countries, property cannot be held in trust.

Protection from challenge

Foundations are based on civil law which makes them far harder to challenge than trusts, which are a common law arrangement. Some jurisdictions allow only three years for creditors to challenge foundation assets.


Foundations and trusts have very different structures. Using the foundation structure means that trustees can be changed very easily and at little or no cost. Changing trustees of a trust can be a time consuming and expensive exercise.

For more information on the use of trusts as part of your estate planning contact us.