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Offshore Accounts in Estate Planning, Probate, and Administration: Reporting Requirements, Penalties, Pitfalls to Avoid

FBAR Reporting and Recent SCOTUS Decision in Bittner v. U.S; FATCA, IRS Audits, and Strategies to Avoid Probate

Recording of a 90-minute CLE/CPE video webinar with Q&A

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Conducted on Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE/CPE webinar will provide estate planners guidance on navigating issues stemming from offshore accounts in estate planning, probate, and administration. The panel will discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bittner v. U.S. regarding FBAR reporting, FATCA, penalties, and other reporting requirements. The panel will also provide insight on how to handle offshore accounts in estate planning, IRS compliance, and strategies to protect offshore accounts.


The government assesses and collects FBAR liability and penalties from beneficiaries and executors after a decedent's date of death and after assets are distributed. Failure to account for offshore accounts and assets can significantly derail the intent of a decedent's estate plan. Trusts and estates counsel must align planning strategies with current U.S. tax law to avoid unintended tax liability, probate issues, and estate administration challenges of foreign assets and accounts.

With thoughtful planning, clients may avoid unexpected aspects of U.S. tax law that could significantly impact family wealth. Estate planners must review a client's foreign assets and accounts and explore the use of certain strategies to protect such assets and other methods of preserving wealth and minimizing income, estate, and gift taxes. Determining a taxpayer's compliance with foreign reporting obligations is a critical step when reviewing, settling, or reporting a decedent's estate.

The penalty for non-willful FBAR violations is $10,000; this can be waived for reasonable cause. Willful non-filing, however, can result in penalties of $100,000 or 50 percent of the account balance, whichever is larger. The U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision in Bittner v. U.S. provides some relief from hefty FBAR penalties for non-willful violations, ruling that it applies on a per report rather than a per account basis. However, the risk of penalties still remains and taxpayers must continue to be proactive with their reporting requirements and filing obligations.

Listen as our panel of experts discusses identifying trusts and estates with foreign reporting obligations, the current government initiative to assess penalties for offshore accounts and assets, avoiding probate, and best practices for bringing taxpayers into compliance.



  1. Applicable rules for foreign asset reporting
  2. Impact of foreign accounts on estate planning
  3. Navigating IRS reporting requirements
    1. FBAR reporting; SCOTUS decision in Bittner v. U.S.
    2. FATCA
    3. Penalties
  4. Strategies for foreign accounts and assets to avoid probate


The panel will discuss these and other key issues:

  • What is the impact of foreign assets on probate and estate administration?
  • How do you handle foreign accounts in estate planning?
  • What strategies are available to protect foreign accounts?
  • What are the IRS reporting requirements and pitfalls to avoid?
  • What is the impact of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Bittner v. U.S.?


Levin, Jeffrey
Jeffrey S. Levin

Senior Partner
Squire Patton Boggs

Mr. Levin’s practice includes federal, state and local taxation; estate planning, trusts and estates...  |  Read More

Packman, Kevin
Kevin E. Packman

Holland & Knight

Mr. Packman is an ACTEC Fellow and partner in Holland & Knight LLP’s Private Wealth Services Section where he...  |  Read More

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