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Jon Andrews
Jon Andrews, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 3118
Experience:  I deal with all levels of tax planning and controversy - from the ordinary to the complex.
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Three others and I inherited an estate in a foreign country

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My three siblings and I inherited an estate in a foreign country when my father passed away eight years ago. The country is a third world country so we assumed it wasn't worth much. We gave my mother's brother, who lives is that country (call him K) a power of attorney to collect the inheritance and transfer it to us. He told my mother there was a dispute with the government of the foreign country over who owned the inheritance. Being family I took his word for it. He claimed he was fighting the government so he could put the inheritance in our hands. Eventually I became suspicious of him, and demanded a detailed accounting and all documents for his work on this matter. He said he didn't have it, so in August 2009 I visited the foreign country for the first time to see for myself. from what I saw during my visit there is no evidence of any dispute with the government. K and his brothers have seemingly taken possession of the inheritance. He continued to refuse to provide the file and eventually I was threatened and told the relative intended to take my inheritance. I fled the country and came back to the United States. I have since hired an attorney in that country to get my inheritance from K. My attorney filed a demand letter with a court in that foreign country, demanding all documents related to the inheritance and an accounting of K's work (list of properties, documents of ownership, accounting of funds and so on). The attorney is to tell me exactly what I inherited and provide all documents of ownership. The problem is the other three beneficiaries refused to give my attorney permission to do this work for them, claiming they don't trust him. Their intention is to work with K to resolve the matter. My attorney states their permission is irrelevant (each beneficiary has a right to see the file under the laws of that foreign country). However, the relative is using the fact that only I retained this attorney, and my family's refusal to give this attorney permission, as a basis to keep the file out of my attorney's hands. My attorney says that his argument has no legal merit in the foreign country, but that there is nothing I can do. No one can go to K's house and demand the file. My only option is to sue him in the foreign country, which will take time. Based on my internet research and a rough approximation by my attorney, my inheritance is worth as much as $5-$10 million. This is far more than I ever expected, since again the country where it's located is a third world country.

So right now, I believe I inherited something of high value, but due to the above reasons I have no evidence. I have no deeds to the properties, no accounting of moneys inherited, no bank accounts and so on. Indeed if I went to that country right now I would have no document or evidence allowing me to take ownership of my inheritance. For example if I went to one of the properties and demanded possession, they could call the police on me and there's nothing I could show the police stating that the property is mine.

As you can imagine this has caused me many sleepless nights. One of my worries in this mess is the tax situation. Do I need to report anything at this time to the IRS? I am optimistic that my attorney will eventually get me my inheritance, and I will then sell it and move the money to the United States, and I want to make sure I do everything properly in preparation.

Signed, Poor in USA, possibly with large inheritance coming.

Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Jon Andrews replied 7 years ago.

There is not anything to do at this time from a tax standpoint. You do not have any control over any of the assets. At such time as some of this becomes resolved in your favor, there may be some reporting required. There should not be any actual tax owed to the IRS until a property is sold. If you are given control over money that is in a foreign bank account, you will need to report that but there is not any tax that is owed based on that.



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