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Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Inheritance, swimming and men

Property tax

I am building a home here on land jointly owned by my wife (Japanese citizen) at a 50:50 recorded proportion (land only).

After the house is built, I assume it will be jointly owned.

If I were to die, I read that she will inherit half of my assets and then my children (two of them -- both U.S. citizens here with proper visa, one married to Japanese citizen) will get equal shares, and that inheritance tax for them can be substantial.

Does this inheritance law apply to noncitizen children in terms of an automatic inheritance with mandatory taxation?

I'd prefer that my wife inherit everything, and decide prior to her demise what her preference is, if possible.

The house will depreciate, of course, but I don't know what tax basis is used to value it or depreciate it, and ditto for the land (which I assume does not depreciate but has a periodic assessment for tax purposes).

A practical example would be if land, and house, when finished, will cost 100,000,000 yen. If my wife already owns half, that decreases my asset on the home to 50,000,000, yen and she gets a 25,000,000 yen asset subject to tax on my demise and my kids each get a 12,500,000 yen asset subject to tax.

If the house and land were owned solely by me, the tax burden on the surviving spouse and children seems excessive. As an ex-pat, how does inheritance tax work, and what options are available to legally minimize it?

Perhaps I need a financial planner?

Japanese believe that all inheritance will disappear by the third generation. This is true to a degree, but these days there are good "gyosei shoshi" and "kaikeishi" who can do wonders for you. A Gyosei Shoshi is the equivalent of a regular nontrial attorney and a kaikeishi an accountant.

For a good "gyosei shoshi" call Mr. Nakai at (03) 6402-7654. For a good kaikeishi call Mr. Takihi at (03) 3351-8580.

Swimming lessons

I'm interested in finding a swimming instructor and a place to swim.

It would be helpful if the instructor spoke English (lessons in English) and/or the pool "gaijin-friendly" if not international.

There are many, many places where you can take swimming lessons, but the best are those connected with your local city office.

If you go to your local city office they will be more than happy to give you information on the pools that are in your area and schedules for lessons.

Do any of our readers know somewhere you can take swimming lessons in English?

Finding a man

In response to E.'s request for advice on where to find mature, interesting men in Tokyo, there are lots of places to do just that.

Foreigner-run hangouts like The Pink Cow ( www.thepinkcow.com ) and Cozmos Cafe (contact info@cozmoscafe.com for events) -- both in Shibuya -- have clientele from a wide range of backgrounds. Both places host lots of parties and events.

There are also many associations and clubs for ex-pats in Tokyo.

Looking for a business man? Attend social events at one of the many foreign chambers of commerce. Enjoy sports? Get involved in an outdoor or mixed sports group, many of which are listed in Metropolis magazine.

Want an artist for a boyfriend? Go to opening parties for new exhibitions, most which are open to the public.

If you want to target a particular nationality, join a group for people from that country. The Canadians ( www.tokyocanadianclub.com ) and Australians ( www.australiasocietyjapan.com ) throw large parties several times a year and invite everyone to attend.

And if you really are ready to put yourself on the market, try Being A Broad's speed dating for foreign women on Aug. 14. For more information and to register, contact info@beinga-broad. ( Karen Foster)

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

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