US persons who have assets abroad (such as real estate and bank accounts) need to consider carefully how to dispose of those assets in their estate plan.
Please note that in most civil-law countries such as on continental Europe trusts are not recognized. Thus those assets can only be disposed of in a will.
In many cases it will be advisable to set up a local will in the foreign country where the assets are located.
Your children and your spouse may be entitled to a mandatory minimum share of these foreign assets.
Many banks nowadays accept beneficiary designations in financial accounts. Check separately with each individual bank.
A will set up in a foreign country should stipulate that it only pertains to the assets located in that country. Careful coordination between the US estate attorney and the overseas estate attorney will be necessary to avoid one will cancelling out provisions of the other.
Conflict of laws rules (the question which country’s laws apply to which assets) are very complex and vary country by country.