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Each situation is different, this article was written for informational purposes only and the opinions mentioned here do not constitute financial advice.
Having children in the United States leads to a number of consequences, whether they were born here or not. Here are the five things I advise my clients to do when they have children in the US.
- Make a will. This document is about people and assets (real estate, 401k accounts, stock-options etc.). This is probably the most important document.
It will decide who will take care of your children (and your pets) if something happens to you.
In general, the first beneficiary of a will is your spouse, then your children. If you do nothing, an American judge will decide the fate of your children. The judge could decide to place them with a host family here in the United States. You do not want to take that risk.
There is a website called Legalzoom where you can write an official will for a small fee. I do not recommend using this website because there are things it won’t necessarily cover. Find a professional- specifically, an Estate Lawyer. That said, a Legalzoom will is better than no will.
- Make a Trust. This document deals with all your property and it’s not just for “rich” people. I repeat: it is-not-only-for-rich-people.
Without a trust, the transfer of your properties (retirement accounts, home etc.) could take 18 months to two years and cost 5-10% of your assets.
With a trust, it only takes 6 to 8 weeks and costs 1-2% of your net worth.
Because the trust only applies to the US, your trust shouldn’t include any French assets.
- Make an Advance Medical Directive. This is an important document that you can create for free. You must give it to your health insurance. If you are in a coma or unable to make decisions, this document will give indications to the doctors about your wishes. For more information, you can read this pdf.
You can download the advance medical directive of your state here.
- Power of Attorney. This is a document that allows you to give someone the power to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable.
- Life Insurance – This is not the same as an assurance vie in France. What will happen financially to your family if something happens to you and/or your spouse? To answer this question, I do a calculation with my clients taking into account the age of their children, their mortgage and other debts, their average household expenses, and other parameters. Watch out for whole life insurance: it’s often more expensive in the long run and gives better commissions to the insurer. I very rarely recommend this type of insurance- I generally prefer a term life insurance, which is less expensive.
Always ask a professional if you have doubts about what to do!
Guillaume Decalf from Oui Financial – firstname.lastname@example.org – After a 15-year career in Tech, including nine years in the United-States, Guillaume switched careers by obtaining his Financial Advisor’s License and starting Oui Financial, a firm specialized in financial planning and investments for French people and French-american families in the United States. He is based in San Francisco, California but serves clients throughout the US.