Can I Leave My Interest in Real Estate to Non-U.S. Citizen?

 In Non-US Citizens, Real Estate
non US beneficiary

Photo by Sean Mullowney on Unsplash


I am US citizen and have a rental property investment near San Diego, California. The deed is under my name and my sister’s name (70:30). I want to sell the house but my sister insists that we don’t sell it because she wants to pass it on to her son after she dies. I feel like I am stuck now. I am single and want to name my non-US citizen niece overseas as my beneficiary after I die, since there is no way I can sell the house now. My questions:  After I die, does my beneficiary from overseas has to come to the USA to take care of the inheritance, or she can hire an estate lawyer in USA from overseas? When that happens, can she “force” my sister to sell the house?


You have two questions. First, can you convey your interest to your niece? The answer is yes. You can leave your property to anyone no matter their citizenship or where they live. And they do not have to come to the United States to gain control. They just have to work with an attorney in the United States. Being out of the country could add somewhat to the legal costs just because it would be logistically more difficult. For instance, your niece would not be able to come to the lawyer’s office to sign all the necessary papers. But it shouldn’t make a big difference.

Second, after your niece has possession of the property, can she force a sale? The answer to this question is yes as well. Your niece (or you, for that matter) can bring an action to “partition” the property to force its sale. Unfortunately, this would involve litigation which can be expensive, but would ultimately be successful. You can read more about this process here.

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