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Don't put Your Greek Property In a US Trust.

You are doing your US estate planning with your favorite local lawyer Bob Smith who is known in your local County to do estate work and planning.  Being a good US lawyer he prepares a Will; a Living Will; Durable Powers of Attorney and for tax or minors'protection  or other reasons ,creates a testamentary trust for all your real estate.The US Will and Trust are selective in who they leave property to including several pieces of Greek real estate that are placed,along with certain US property, in the Trust. Under penalty of perjury, and if you want the wishes of the deceased carried out, you must follow the process to have the US Will recognized and given effect in Greece. (I will talk about how this is done in a future blog entry).  The problem is that Greek law does not recognize Trusts or Trustees. They will look to identify  the individual heirs ,not only for purposes of the Greek probate process but also for computation of the Greek Inheritance Tax Declarations. Greek Courts may not recognize the US Trust as a legal person and therefore,technically ,title may not be able to be placed in the US Trust.  Worse yet, Greek Inheritance taxes are based on the degree/level of family relationship- with spousal and parent child inheritance bequests taxed at the lowest rate and unrelated persons or entities taxed at the highest rate. This creates the potential for paying ten times or more the inheritance tax otherwise due if the Greek property was left directly to the heirs. In such cases, you should consult with our firm to discuss how the testamentary disposition of the Greek and US assets and properties can be planned and drafted to avoid these issues. This problem is a textbook problem which arises between common law legal systems and code law systems.  I will also talk about this general issue in a future blog-namely that Greece does not draw the common law distinction between property law and contract law -among other key comparative law differences between USA and Greek law.

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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group
Phone: 610-628-1336
Toll Free: 877-509-4333
Fax: 610-691-8418

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Bethlehem, PA 18018
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Edison, NJ 08817
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4th Floor
Athens, 10671
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Thessaloniki, 54625
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Hahalis & Kounoupis, P.C. - Greek Law Group