What will the New Year bring?

Monday, 14 December 2020
Editor's foreword

At the time of writing, many countries were entering a second ‘lockdown’ due to a new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks. It is hoped that most of these restrictive measures will have been lifted by the time you read this and that we will be able to enjoy as ‘normal’ a holiday season as possible in the circumstances.

This year’s unprecedented experience was a harsh demonstration that our professions and, in fact, mankind as a whole, may be faced with much more fundamental challenges than those usually brought about by the ever-increasing complexity of legislation and regulations.

An immediate consequence of the pandemic has been a faster trend towards digitalisation of many of our activities. STEP itself is an estimable example, with many STEP events, planned to take place all over the world, converted into online webinars. More generally, many practitioners have become increasingly aware of the issues relating to the execution of electronic wills, the administration of estates that include digital assets and the mitigation of cybersecurity risks. All of these topics are covered in this issue.

Nonetheless, paraphrasing the celebrated Prince of Salina’s tenet in Tomasi di Lampedusa’s The Leopard, ‘everything needs to change, so everything can stay the same’. The additional layers of regulation that are typically imposed every year, at a national and international level, make our professional life highly complex. A number of examples are illustrated in this issue of the Journal, ranging from international tax cases and cross-border succession matters to the enforceability of pre-nuptial agreements.

As our authors explain, a German individual doing business in Israel without a clear understanding of the local tax system may meet unpleasant tax surprises, a Scottish national with assets in Spain may be subject to tax in both jurisdictions, and a Lithuanian national dying in Germany may leave some unresolved issues to their heirs.

The first reporting under Directive (EU) 2018/822 (DAC6), originally scheduled for 31 August 2020, was postponed in most Member States to 28 February 2021. This is another area where, far from harmonising international tax practices within the EU, a number of national systems have evolved, in some cases with opposite approaches to the same sets of facts.

All of this will have to be faced next year, in the hope that, at the same time, the world’s health emergency will be resolved. Meanwhile, in a cheerful spirit appropriate to this time of the year, two articles in this issue focus on building a ‘growth mindset’ corporate culture and aligning purpose and career at the individual level.

Philanthropic projects remain a fundamental component of estate planning for high-net-worth individuals and are quite pertinent at this time of year, as a quintessential embodiment of the ‘Christmas spirit’. To this effect, as is explained in some detail in an article in this issue, a Swiss foundation can be a suitable arrangement to fund and implement a large-scale charitable initiative.

On this positive note, I wish you all a relaxing festive season, and a happy and prosperous New Year!

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Paolo Panico TEP

Paolo Panico TEP is Partner at Paolo Panico’s Law Chambers, a member of STEP’s worldwide Council, and a member of the STEP Journal Editorial Board.

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