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Undocumented immigrants can inherit assets

Many New Yorkers have relatives or in-laws who are undocumented immigrants. When people are creating their estate plan, they may have questions about transferring assets to family members or friends who do not have authorization to live and work in the United States. While it is possible for an undocumented immigrant to own real estate, there may be difficulties transferring assets to someone who does not have a Social Security number.

A woman recently wrote a letter to the Moneyologist about her late sister's estate and asked how the estate would affect her brother-in-law, an undocumented immigrant. Though the woman's sister was married to her husband for 30 years, her husband never applied for permanent residency or U.S. citizenship. After his wife passed away, the widower was afraid that he would not be allowed to remain in his late wife's home, and he feared that he would be deported.

The Moneyologist explained that the man would be able to inherit his late wife's property. In fact, 35 percent of undocumented or unauthorized immigrants own their own homes in the United States, according to a Pew Hispanic Center report. Many small community lenders do not require Social Security numbers to apply for a mortgage, and undocumented immigrants might be able to use a Taxpayer Identification Number to apply for a loan.

Every person has a unique family structure that must be taken into account in order to create a comprehensive estate plan. An estate planning attorney can often help clients determine what their goals are and then create documents that can help to reach them.

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