Most people are not thinking about taxes and practical concerns when they decide to marry. After the honeymoon is over though, these issues can come up – particularly if you have entered into an international marriage.
Because of the globalization of commerce and business over the last few decades, people are coming into contact with foreigners on a much more regular basis now than they did in the past. Often, these “encounters” end up leading to love affairs and even marriage.
In fact, the rate of international marriages in the United States has doubled since 1960. Today, over five million people in the U.S. are married to someone from another country, and the number is expected to continue to grow in the future.
An international marriage can bring with it some practical and financial dilemmas that should be resolved to ensure that both partners are protected in the event of a death or incapacity.
One example of how an international marriage can impact your estate plan revolves around the unlimited marital deduction. You may already know that you can leave your spouse an unlimited amount of assets when you die free from estate taxes pursuant to the marital deduction; however, this only applies if both spouses are U.S. citizens. In other words, if your spouse is a foreign national, anything you leave him or her may be subject to estate and gift taxes when you die. If you leave behind a substantial estate, assets over the lifetime exemption amount could be subject to taxation at a rate of 40 percent.
To ensure that assets are not lost to estate taxes when you die, be sure to consult with your estate planning attorney.