How to Receive an Inheritance from Iran

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Can I Receive An Inheritance From Iran?

Yes.  The Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations do not prohibit the receipt of an inheritance from Iran. With proper documentation, the receipt of an inheritance from Iran is allowed.

The United States Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) has authorized transactions related to inheritances in Iran. Pursuant to  31 USC 560.550, of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”), inheritances are among the limited activities authorized. This provision provides as follows:

Certain noncommercial, personal remittances to or from Iran authorized

(a) In cases in which the transfer involves a noncommercial, personal remittance, the transfer of funds to or from Iran or for or on behalf of an individual ordinarily resident in Iran, other than an individual whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to §560.211, is authorized, provided that the transfer is processed by a United States depository institution or a United States registered broker or dealer in securities and not by any other U.S. person; does not involve debiting or crediting an Iranian account; and is not by, to, or through the Government of Iran, as defined in §560.304.

(b) Noncommercial, personal remittances do not include charitable donations to or for the benefit of an entity or funds transfers for use in supporting or operating a business, including a family-owned enterprise.

Note to paragraph (b) of §560.550: Charitable donations of funds to or for the benefit of an entity in Iran require a specific license.

(c) The transferring institutions identified in paragraph (a) of this section may rely on the originator of a funds transfer with regard to compliance with paragraph (a) of this section, provided that the transferring institution does not know or have reason to know that the funds transfer is not in compliance with paragraph (a) of this section.

(d) An individual who is a U.S. person is authorized to carry funds as a noncommercial, personal remittance, as described in paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section, to an individual in Iran or ordinarily resident in Iran, other than an individual whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to §560.211, provided that the individual who is a U.S. person is carrying the funds on his or her behalf, but not on behalf of another person.

How Do I Receive An Inheritance From Iran?

Under the ITSR, it is clear that a transfer involving a non-commercial personal remittance is authorized, provided that the transfer is processed by a United States depository institution (among others). This includes an inheritance. Because of the sanctions presently imposed against Iran, there is no direct banking permitted between Iran and the United States.  Therefore, funds and wire transfers between the United States and Iran arising out of an authorized transfer require the use of a banking institution in a third country before they may be transferred to the United States.

To be sure, you should consult the Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons List (SDN) to ensure that you, your client, or the institution with whom you are dealing is not listed. One must be vigilant to ensure that no individual or institution appears on the SDN List to facilitate the financial transfer.

Depending upon the nature of the funds inherited, the manner in which they may be transferred will vary. There may be required disclosures to the intermediary bank in the third country chosen to facilitate the transaction. At a minimum, three international legal schemes are implicated when accomplishing such a transaction.

Further, because the inheritance’s funds likely are being held in an Iranian financial institution for, albeit temporary safekeeping, the transferee has a burden to prove the true nature of the transaction. The permissible transfer may face issues if the depository and transferring institutions are not properly advised of the nature of the transaction.

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