María Elia Gastélum
Dually licensed in Mexico and California, Maria helps clients with international estate and business planning.

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At MEG International Counsel, we are often contacted by tax preparation offices with clients who have needs going beyond the scope of services they can confidently provide. In these situations, we encourage a collaborative partnership that preserves the tax preparer’s original client relationship while connecting them with the expertise they need to address complex issues related to estate tax, gift tax, and generation-skipping transfer tax concerns.

Estate Tax Planning Is Vital for Non-U.S. Citizens

While estate tax planning is important for any wealthy individual, there is a broader need for services among those who are not U.S. citizens. A non-citizen has only a $60,000 exclusion, while citizens have a $12.06 million exclusion. This means that simply owning a home in the United States will result in estate tax liability for a non-citizen unless they have access to proper planning resources.

Non-citizens can also face challenges related to the different residency and citizenship statuses of their heirs. The specialized nature of their estate tax planning needs makes it vital to work with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with international clients. We discuss some of the reasons for this in our free whitepaper, 5 Ways Your International Estate Plan Can Be Pulverized by a Lawyer With No International Experience.

We Can Create a Trust-Based Estate Plan

Most often, trust-based planning is the ideal way for a foreign citizen with assets in the U.S. and abroad to reduce or eliminate estate tax liability. Irrevocable trusts are frequently used for estate planning because they allow the trust to become the legal owner of the assets in question. This transfer of ownership is what eliminates the need to pay estate taxes.

Our estate planning attorneys can ensure that your client has a strategy that provides the maximum possible protection based on their goals and the different requirements each state has for creating a trust. If you’re attempting to create a trust for your client using template forms, you could run into serious liability concerns if your client passes away and their heirs or beneficiaries are unhappy with their tax liability.

How Our Partnership Will Work

For a successful collaboration, we must have a direct attorney/client relationship with the individual you are serving. We have a duty of confidentiality and must respect the wishes of our clients. However, we’ve found that our clients typically will allow their tax preparer, accountant, or CPA to be involved in the process.

Payments for our services must be made from the client or by a third party they have authorized. It must be clear that fees for services related to creating a trust or advising on estate planning strategies are paid to MEG International Counsel, while services for tax preparation are paid to your business.

Lawyers offer services that CPAs and tax prep offices can’t, but we believe working together is beneficial for all parties. If you’d like to learn more, contact our offices today to speak with Antonio Gastélum and María Elia Gastélum.

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