As I write this month’s editor’s note, the U.S. government shutdown just ended, at least for now. Not only did the shutdown directly impact U.S. citizens and cost the United States billions of dollars, but also it produced anxiety in countries around the globe, especially as we came within hours of reaching the debt ceiling deadline. Increasingly, what happens in one country can have a ripple effect throughout the world. And, the laws on estate planning are no exception. It’s not uncommon to have clients who own assets or property in other countries or who themselves are citizens of other countries. 

Our Special Report: International Practice provides a window into understanding these global issues. First, Barbara R. Hauser takes us on a worldwide tour of 47 countries and their inheritance laws in “Death Taxes Around the World in 2013,” p. 56. “Navigating United States—Japan Estate Planning,” by Akane R. Suzuki, Tomoko Nakada, Shigehisa Miyake and Hidehito Ogaki, p. 65, provides an overview of Japanese legal and tax rules that apply after someone’s death. Finally, in “Foreign Trust Funding Peril,”
p. 71, Natalia Murphy explains how to avoid U.S. estate tax on foreign trusts under Internal Revenue Code Section 2104(b). 

If you’re not in the mood for international travel, you may want to go cross-country to discover what the states are doing with regard to estate-planning issues. In that case, I recommend you take a look at “The State of the States: 2013,” p. 14, by Sharon L. Klein. Her article covers state laws and proposals on issues such as posthumously conceived children, same-sex marriages, digital assets and domestic asset protection.