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Tuesday, April 5, 2005


Burned out, wills and tax advice


Last week our house had a fire We had just moved into a rental house and paid all the key money, real estate fees etc. and nine days later our neighbor's house had a major fire, which spread to ours. The neighbor's house is completely burned, and one person died. My family all escaped unhurt, but our house was partially burned and has a lot of water and smoke damage.

We are now arranging to rent another place to live, but have to pay key money and all the related moving costs again.

Our rental fire insurance will cover our lost property, but nothing else. What, if anything are we entitled to from our landlord or real estate agent, or even from our neighbors or insurance company? The cost of moving again is going to put a huge financial burden on us and I am very worried.

Wow! You guys really got it! We checked with Kenneth Arbour of Sky Realty in Tokyo and Ken says generally you should be able to get back any downpayments, including key money etc. and should also be able to get some form of help to move.

What is critical is what your contract says and whether it considers a fire an "act of God."

Generally speaking, though, you should be able to get reimbursed -- especially since you were only there for nine days. This should be done through your real estate agent directly. You can also check directly with Ken at (03) 3585-0021 or at k.arbour@century21.ne.jp

Japanese wills

I am a U.S. citizen, living in Japan with a permanent visa. My wife is a Japanese citizen. I am interested in making a will, largely to make sure that in the event of my death, she gets the best possible deal. However, it isn't clear to me whether I need an American lawyer, a Japanese lawyer, or what.

Do you have any suggestions?

Generally a regular will is all you need. Your wife as your only family member will be taken care of.

The only complication would be concerning overseas assets outside of Japan that you may have.

You can contact Mr. Watanabe at (03) 3225-5361 for help in putting together a simple Japanese will.

If you have assets outside of Japan please give the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan a call at (03) 3433-5381 and they can put you in contact with one of a number of international lawyers.

From Our Readers

One of our most loyal readers, Peter Van Buren of the U.S. Embassy, reminds all Americans that from April 5 through April 15, a representative from the Internal Revenue Service will be at the embassy in Tokyo to assist U.S. taxpayers.

Consultations are by appointment only, and may be scheduled on a first come, first serve basis. Available hours are between 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, but no walk-in consultations will be available.

The representative will also conduct -- by appointment -- consultations over the phone between April 5-15 for those who can't travel to the embassy.

Interested residents should contact the American Citizens Services Section by phone at (03) 3224-5174 to make an appointment for either an in-person or telephone consultation. This number is to make appointments only; no tax help is available at this number.

The number of appointments is limited so you'll need to call as soon as possible to avail of this service.

The IRS representative will not offer consultations at consulates and information is available in English only.


Traveling and want to know the weather at the place you are traveling to in Japan? Dial the area code of where you're going (for example Osaka is 06) and add 177 (so 06177 for Osaka) and you will have the most recent updated weather report.

Send your queries, questions, problems and posers to lifelines@japantimes.co.jp

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