Cross-Border Estate Planning and Succession
By Prof Sergio Guerrero Rosas, Guerrero y Santana, S.C.
Cross-border business can get very complex and Mexico is no exception. Mexico is a great location to buy real estate for business; it is a cheaper option in terms of labour costs and a perfect location for business with the US as well as Central and South America. Some just enjoy Mexico for its beauty and buy real estate in search of warmer weather for a vacation property. This acquisition can come from a purchase or succession – either way property ownership in Mexico comes with expenses, risks, and taxes from local and federal laws.
When talking about succession it is necessary to have the death certificate and, if applicable, the will. This is defined if it is a testamentary or non-testamentary succession. An inheritance immediately causes the property-acquisition tax, which is a minimum tax ranging from 0.5% to 3% on the cadastral value of the property. In the specific case that it is not an inheritance, but a donation or legacy in life, the payment of the property-acquisition tax is also contemplated. ISR payment is not made, only in cases where hereditary succession is in a straight line.
The next step is to check the status of the property and make sure that the estate does not have debts in the payment of property, water, and other services, and, in the case of mortgages, that the property has been liquidated. When this is done, the executor can be appointed, and the beneficiaries can either claim ownership of the property or begin the process of selling it.
In Mexico’s case, major business opportunities come from our northern border; having an economic giant as a neighbour like the United States is great for business but many foreigners do not understand the expenses, risks, and tax implications of property ownership or doing business within the US. In the US, there are several types of will: simple, joint, and fiduciary. As a general rule, the widowed spouse has the right to receive a percentage of the inheritance, although there is no obligation to leave an inheritance to children or other relatives, such as siblings or parents. The inheritance tax, known in the US as estate tax, is paid on the estate of the deceased and before proceeding to deliver each part to the heirs. At the state level, only some states have estate tax. In addition, some states such as Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and Pennsylvania have inheritance taxes that apply on the amount each heir receives, after the inheritance has already been delivered.
Prof Sergio Guerrero RosasGGI member firm
Guerrero y Santana, S.C. Advisory, Auditing & Accounting
Corporate Finance, Law Firm Services, Tax
Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
T: +52 333 120 05 38
Guerrero y Santana, S.C. provides its clients with a wide range of tax, legal, and consulting services. The firm has been helping clients – from individuals and small local businesses to major corporations and multinationals – to achieve their smallest aims and grandest ambitions. They are committed to providing specialised, personalised services to all those seeking reliable and up-to-date tax, legal, and business support.
Prof Sergio Guerrero Rosas, Managing Director at Guerrero y Santana, has over 25 years’ experience advising companies from SMEs to multinationals, as well as individuals, on tax and estate planning. He is also Global Vice Chairperson of the Trust and Estate Planning Practice Group and Latin American Chairperson of the GGI International Taxation Practice Group (ITPG).
Published: Trust & Estate Planning Newsletter, No. 05, Spring 2020 l Photo: emperorcosar - stock.adobe.com