Beyond The Will, Client Compass

Golden Visas and Estate Planning: How You Can Travel and Create Generational Wealth Over-Seas

September 6, 2023


Didn’t get to travel to Europe this summer? Dreaming of retiring abroad? Have a child who is starting school internationally? It is not too late to head overseas and explore the unique benefits of alternative residences through programs known as Golden Visas. If you are an eager traveler and want to preserve wealth for future generations, the Golden Visa is your golden ticket to creating generational wealth while living a high-quality life abroad (with a view). While Golden Visas are often believed to be for wealthy individuals, they are attractive options for anyone considering retirement, planning to sell a business, or even for anyone looking for a better quality of life and affordable health care.

Golden Visas: What Are They?

Golden Visas are immigration programs that give individuals (and their families) residency rights -the right to live, work, study and receive health care-in a foreign country by purchasing real estate or making an investment or donation in the country. Some countries even grant residency rights without individuals having to live in the country. Other countries with Golden Visa programs allow individuals to apply for citizenship after holding a resident permit for a specified period.

Different countries have different investment options, ranging anywhere from €60,000 to €2 million. A country’s investment requirements often depend on what a country believes would help drive competition in the local market. Many countries also require individuals to maintain their investments for a certain period.

Eligibility requirements for a Golden Visa vary between countries. However, generally speaking, individuals must meet the following:

  1. They must personally own the money used to invest (subject to exceptions in some countries) and prove that the money was acquired legally.
  2. They must have no criminal record.
  3. They must prove they have sufficient financial resources to sustain themselves (and their family members).

While the investment options and eligibility requirements for Golden Visas vary among countries, Golden Visas bring international opportunities that can contribute to overall wealth and more favorable estate plan strategies.

Estate Planning Benefits: How Golden Visas Can Contribute to Your Overall Wealth

Diversifying and Protecting Assets for Future Generations. Among the many benefits of being a Golden Visa holder is that it provides individuals with global rights, including the ability to invest and carry out business operations in another country. Golden Visa holders of a country in the European Union (“EU”), for example, can also invest in the economy of another EU country. The ability for Golden Visa holders to expand into new markets creates more business and investing opportunities and, in many countries, also provides favorable Returns on Investments.

Of course, individuals can also enjoy seamless traveling (for business and/or pleasure) between EU countries without needing a Schengen visa. Individuals can find peace in this “borderless” travel as it creates a safety net for individuals and their families and reassures the protection of their assets.

By having assets overseas, Golden Visa holders can implement estate planning strategies to protect their assets from tax and intestacy laws in the U.S. and abroad. An estate plan with a more global comprehensive portfolio can create additional wealth for individuals and their families for generations to come.

Reduced Tax Burdens. As a Golden Visa holder and tax resident of another country, individuals can take advantage of a country’s tax system. For example, most Golden Visa countries do not impose any wealth, estate, or inheritance taxes. This differs from the U.S., where estates are taxed, and some states even tax inheritances.

In addition, many Golden Visa countries do not tax gifts to certain family members. If an individual wants to pass wealth to their spouse or child, the transfer could be made without incurring gift taxes. Doing so allows individuals to be more intentional with their gifts and, more importantly, preserve more of their wealth for the next generation.

Some Golden Visa countries also do not tax digital currencies. Individuals who invest in digital currencies or those looking to invest in digital currencies in the future can also benefit from these generous tax schemes.

Access to Affordable Health Care and High-Quality Education. As a resident, Golden Visa holders (and their families) get access to a country’s affordable and high-quality healthcare system. This is particularly beneficial for individuals nearing retirement or looking to retire/spend significant time overseas. For example, in Europe, the average monthly cost of a nursing home is around €1,300 to €3,100. Compared to the average monthly costs of nursing homes in the U.S., ranging from $7,000 to $10,000, the affordability of health care in Europe allows Golden Visa holders to hold onto wealth that they would otherwise spend on home care within the U.S.

Because the resident permit can also apply to family members, Golden Visa holders with children can also get access to top schools and universities in the country.

Where to Travel Next: Favorable Golden Visa Countries  

Whether you are interested in expanding your wealth, implementing tax-saving strategies into your estate plan, planning to retire along the Mediterranean coast, or simply looking to satisfy your travel bug, here is a list of favorable countries with Golden Visa programs to check out.

Before you jet-set on to your new destination, consider meeting with an estate planning attorney who can guide you through the different Golden Visa options available and implement creative strategies to meet both your local and international estate plan goals.


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