Imagine the scene. You’re about to have breakfast with your family when suddenly your phone rings. You don’t recognize the number. Besides, the extension suggests it’s an international call from somewhere in Germany. As far as you’re concerned you don’t know anyone in Germany, but you’re curious about it. You pick up, and you hear a calm and composed voice on the other end tell you about your great-cousin Helga, who died and left you her property. You’re surprised because you never knew about Helga, but the person on the phone explains the family connection and you begin to recognize some of the names they mention.
Inheriting a property can be a challenge at the best of times. You need to think about managing your inheritance tax, and whether you’re going to keep or sell the property. But things can get a little more difficult when it is a foreign property. Indeed, international regulations also need to be considered to manage your home abroad and make the most of your inheritance. Here’s what you need to know about foreign houses:
Local inheritance tax
As a US citizen, you are probably familiar with American inheritance taxes. However, it’s important to understand that if the property is based in a foreign country, you are likely to face inheritance taxes there too. Inheritance tax rates vary across the world, the US tax rate being the fourth-highest one in the Economic Cooperation and Development countries. The German property, for instance, would come with a 30% inheritance tax rate. But, if your grant-cousin Helga lived in Hungary, for instance, you wouldn’t need to pay anything as part of the inheritance process. Typically, the notary office in charge of contacting you would be familiar with the local processes and can assist you with the management of the property, whether you wish to rent it, make it your own, or sell it.
Are you keeping it?
If after a quick visit to Helga’s hometown in Bavaria, you find yourself falling in love with the landscape, the rural culture, and the delicious beer festivals, you might be wondering whether you’d like to move into her former home. After all, she’s given it to you, so why not make it officially yours? Moving abroad is no walk in the park, so it’s something you want to plan carefully with an experienced immigration lawyer to avoid any visa issue. This could be the beginning of a new life with all the excitement it brings!
Get to know your new relatives
Last but not least, hearing about Helga made you curious about your distant family. Do you have other relatives scattered around the world? There’s only one way of knowing! You can discover your heritage through DNA and perhaps find out that you have many relatives in German-speaking countries and the Baltics. Why not seize the opportunity to learn to know the land of your ancestors? You can reach out to tour guides to create a heritage travel plan. But some DNA sites allow you to discover relatives. So why not meet them too?
Could your foreign property be the beginning of a new adventure? Think of it as a bridge that lets you find out more about your family, your ancestors, and your culture. You can decide to reconnect with lost traditions or relatives and learn more about yourself in the process.