Breytenbachs Cross Border Advisory

Cross-Border Estate Planning

How must I deal with my South African assets? This is a loaded and complicated question, as the answer depends on the complexity of the SA Family Trust Structure, the location of the joint owners of the title deed or the “company created to own the farm.”

In terms of South African law, a local resident executor must be appointed each time immovable property is owned in South Africa. For this reason we suggest a separate South African will to deal with SA assets only.

Forced heirship, probate rules and wills prepared in a language that is not an official language, are ignored in South Africa.

Where clients pass away, without leaving a separate SA will, we can assist in a formal translation and the submission of the foreign will to the Master in South Africa.

Normal Income Tax Double Treaty Agreements (DTA or treaties) does not cover Estate Duty tax in South Africa. South Africa has entered into one or two death duty treaties, but they are outdated and often provide very little practical benefit.

SAFFAS (@wegkaner) living abroad should also not assume that their relocation or formal emigration, saves them from SA Estate Duty. Estate Duty on SA assets are charged and collected against the local assets of a non-resident.

Equally important for clients immigrating to SA, is the current estate duty exemption they may enjoy. As a rule, the foreign assets held prior to your immigration to SA as well as non-RSA assets inherited post-immigration, continue to enjoy estate duty exemption in the immigrants estate. His or her spouse or children will no longer enjoy this benefit and the transfer of any foreign held assets will also result in the estate duty exemption being forfeited.

It is evident that cross border estate planning is complex and dangerous and using the incorrect terminology in your SA will, intended to deal with SA assets only, may result in your carefully drafted UK will being considered dated and irrelevant.

At BCBA we believe in responsible border estate planning i.e. we need to work closely with your wealth and estate planners/administrators in all the countries you stayed in or held assets.

Being part of the solution and a globally advisory team, is our goal.