Earlier this month, Billy Connolly led the 21st New York Tartan Day Parade. The US celebration of Scottish culture saw pipers, drummers and dancers parade through the city to much excitement. You may have seen North Lanarkshire Schools Pipe Band’s wonderful performance in Grand Central Station, which created quite a buzz on social media. That same weekend (although admittedly to much less fanfare and paparazzi interest than the Big Yin and the pipe band) I arrived in New York for a week of presentations and business meetings.
As well as taking the chance to catch up with existing contacts and meet new ones, I had been invited to speak about Scottish partnerships and Scottish succession at a STEP New York gathering. It was fascinating to hear different perspectives on succession from other delegates, and in particular to discuss their views of the Scottish system.
In an ever shrinking world, we are seeing an increasing number of clients with interests in the US and across the world. From a succession point of view, it is becoming so important that clients make sure they have wills which cover all of their assets, wherever they are in the world. In particular, clients want to ensure that they make things as administratively straight forward as possible for the loved ones they leave behind. That often involves taking advice in more than one country.
From a tax perspective, it is important that clients consider which country has priority when it comes to taxing their assets. There is a double taxation treaty between the UK and the US which governs this, but its operation can be quite complex in practice. There are many countries where there is no treaty and that can make the position even more complex. With the current ‘tax free’ thresholds in the UK being somewhere between £325,000 and £950,000 (depending on your personal circumstances), as compared to the US’s allowance of more than $20m dollars for a married couple, it is so important to know where your assets are going to be taxed. There are also important income tax considerations where there are US taxpayers in the family, and even more to think about if one of those US tax payers happens to be your spouse or civil partner!