Why Ex-Pats Still Need an American Lawyer

Relatively speaking, it’s pretty easy to sell almost everything you own, pack up, move abroad and claim you’re never coming back. It gets even easier when you’re young, don’t have a family and have figured out a way to make a decent living abroad. Maybe you’ve created a sweet telecommuting gig for yourself, you’re able to run your business from anywhere around the world or you’ve jumped on the bandwagon of teaching in another country. However, legal troubles don’t always know borders.

When you build a relationship with an American attorney, you have someone with legal know-how to have your back when you can’t be there. This might be necessary for dealing with the death of a parent (estate planning), tax issues or operating your small business. Burning bridges is never a good idea, and it’s wise to have professionals in your corner no matter where you call home.

But aren’t retainers expensive?

Actually retaining a lawyer can be expensive, but that’s not necessary for most people (and especially not most ex-pats). Instead, set up a complimentary meet and greet session so that an attorney at least knows who you are. If possible, meet up with an attorney who’s familiar with the laws of the country where you’re moving or specializes in international clients. There are more of them than you think.

Checking in on Facebook or other informal platform ensures you stay in their memory but aren’t racking up costly bills. A reputable attorney is happy to build a potential client base without nickel and diming you. If or when the time comes that you need their services, you won’t be scrambling for an attorney. Instead, you’ll have already done your research and know a lawyer you trust.

Gone for good

There are of course ex-pats who really don’t ever return to the US. However, you’ll likely be back at the very least to visit. Plus, who knows where you’ll want to be in 20 years? When it comes time to raise a family or retire, “home” might come calling again. You may want your children to be around your extended family or an irresistible job opportunity might pop up.

Writing off your home country is a huge deal, and those cut ties can come back to bite you. Instead, make sure you have a team of home-based professionals that includes an attorney, CPA and banker. At the very least, when you feel homesick (and you will) you’ll rest easier knowing you still have connections.

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