Foreign real estate can cause issues in two separate ways, when it comes to estates. It can be difficult for people who own it, when they are planning their estates. It can also be difficult for Americans who inherit it. For the first problem, people need to understand that any real estate owned in a foreign country, is subject to the laws of that foreign country.
Many countries have strict rules about who may inherit property. These rules are unlike anything in the U.S. Attorneys who practice in the foreign country need to be consulted, so any estate plan can take the foreign laws into account when dealing with that property. Inheritors face other issues, as the Washington Post discusses in "Inheriting property overseas can be a dream come true, but it comes with challenges."
The first thing to understand is that individuals who inherit property worth more than $100,000 or corporations that inherit property worth more than $16,000, must report that information to the IRS. There is usually no tax associated with the inheritance. However, failure to report it can be penalized.
Income generated from the property in the foreign country must be reported to the IRS. Whether any tax is due, depends on whether taxes on that income are paid to the foreign country and how much those taxes are. Finally, the use and sale of the land might be restricted by the foreign country, so local attorneys should be consulted on those issues.
Reference: Washington Post (May 29, 2018) "Inheriting property overseas can be a dream come true, but it comes with challenges."