FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS
A FORMIDABLE PARTNERSHIP
Working with our partner firm, VIP International, we are strategically aligned as an international marketing organization specializing in insurance-based products and integrated solutions for the complex foreign national market. Selling in this market requires knowledge of customs, practices, procedures and laws of foreign countries. Our firm is designed to seamlessly support financial advisors, registered investment advisors, agents, private wealth advisors and broker-dealers in international markets. We are dedicated to enhancing the unique personal relationships that our partners have with their clients, understanding that these high net-worth global citizens require a heightened level of confidentiality and discretion.
A GLOBAL MARKETPLACE
- In many cases, the needs of a foreign national for life insurance are the same as a U.S. citizen:
- to protect a wage earner’s income;
- to provide for children’s education;
- to cover debts, such as mortgages and consumer loans; and,
- to cover final expenses of an estate.
- The foreign country may not have available some of the advantages of a U.S. life insurance policy, such as:
- a death benefit generally free from federal income tax;
- when the insured is a nonresident alien, permanently residing outside the U.S., the death benefit would not be subject to U.S. estate taxes; and,
- a death benefit in U.S. dollars, a strong currency, complementing an international portfolio.
- With the increase in the United States of professionals working via the use of a special work visa (H1B), such as physicians and high-tech positions, businesses that employ these individuals have the same needs as all U.S. businesses. There is a particularly high need to protect their businesses:
- to replace them, should these key people be lost to death early; and,
- to retain and reward them, so they do not voluntarily depart early.
- Also, affluent foreign nationals who have come to the United States to own small businesses have the same need as other U.S. businesses to implement exit strategies, which often include the use of life insurance as a funding mechanism.
- Whereas a U.S.-citizen spouse can receive an unlimited amount of assets from the estate of her deceased spouse with no estate tax consequence, this is not the case for a non-U.S.-citizen spouse. Often, we hear of the use of a qualified domestic trust (QDOT), if a surviving spouse of a U.S. citizen is not a citizen herself. This legal tool may push off the estate tax on funds transferred into it and create some additional access to funds for the decedent. However, the QDOT’s rules for its assets can create limitations to this structure’s flexibility and control. Furthermore, in the case of a non-resident alien (NRA), life insurance owned by him on his own life is not considered U.S. property, and thus would be excluded from U.S. estate tax (unlike life insurance owned by a U.S. citizen or resident alien (RA), which must be owned by an irrevocable trust to be excluded).
- The bottom line is that whether the decedent a U.S. citizen or NRA, the surviving spouse and family would be well served by the proceeds of life insurance, as it provides immediate cash and unencumbered liquidity.
We live in a global economy and the reality is that within the United States, there has been both an increase in general population and an influx of international businesses. More than ever, there is a greater awareness and need for planning by wealthy foreign nationals.
The planning opportunities in some cases are like U.S. citizens, however, taxation and legal issues may differ, depending on specific classification as either a resident alien or nonresident alien. There may be distinct advantages to being a nonresident alien, but from year to year, in individual cases, this may vary, and therefore should be reviewed on an ongoing basis. It is critical that your wealthy foreign national clients coming to the United States, as well as those permanently residing in other countries, understand their options and tax liabilities in the US, as well as their home countries. In some cases, their unique ability to secure US life insurance is an attractive part of their overall financial planning.
Taxation of Foreign Nationals by the United States, https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/tax/articles/taxation-of-foreign-nationals-by-the-us.html, Deloitte, 2016.
Three Ways to Mitigate Risk When Planning for Non-US Citizens, Carey Rokovich, Transamerica, April 14, 2015.