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International Knowledge Circle: Bear-traps, Pitfalls and Missteps in International and Cross-border Financial Planning

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Even more so than for domestically focused clients, International and Cross-border planning is a specialty area of financial planning littered with bear-traps, pitfalls and missteps. Bear traps would be those missteps that may cost your client a double digit amount of their account in fines, massive capital gains tax bills or estate tax applying at levels as low as $60,000. Pitfalls include punitive tax rates and penalties for non-compliant foreign investments, an exit tax for departing expats and non-refundable foreign withholding taxes. A mere misstep may involve subjecting a client to double taxation or not picking up on their lack of insurance coverage.

Bear Traps

  • Tax reporting
  • Ownership of foreign businesses within trusts (redomestication issues)
  • Estate planning
  •    Foreign withholding taxes
  •    Passive Foreign Investment Corporations (PFICs)
  •   ‘HEART’ Act of 2008 and Covered Expatriates
  •     Contributing to the wrong type of US account (ROTH’s, 529’s, Cash Value Life Insurance etc.

Ashley Murphy, CFP®, AIF®, CEPA™

Founder and Principal, Arete Wealth Strategists Australia

Ashley Murphy, CFP® AIF® CEPATM, is a tri-citizen of the USA, Australia, and the UK. Ashley is the founder and Principal of Arete Wealth Strategists Australia, a fee-only financial planning and investment management firm for Australian/American expatriates in the United States and Australia.

In building his global financial planning knowledge and zeroing in on his natural target market of Australian-American-British expatriates, Ashley grew his practice revenue 290% in 18 months. Ashley travels the US on a quarterly basis to see clients and spends a month in Australia each year with his family while visiting clients and attending conferences.

From 2014 - 2017, Ashley taught in the CFP programs at UC Berkeley Extension and Golden Gate University. He was formerly a Knowledge Circle host for the International and Cross-Border Knowledge Circle with the Financial Planning Association (2017 - 2019) and is a regular conference speaker. He holds a Graduate Diploma in Financial Planning in Australia making him one of the only financial advisors educated in both advice markets. Ashley has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, profiled in Financial Advisor Magazine, and wrote a guest-blog for Michael Kitces’s Nerd’s Eye View.


Bear-traps, Pitfalls and Missteps in International and Cross-border Financial Planning
Open to view video.
Open to view video.
Course Evaluation
7 Questions
Certificate of Completion
0.0 CFP CE credits  |  Certificate available
0.0 CFP CE credits  |  Certificate available