There is an issue of U.S. property seized in Cuba more than a half century ago that may slow the attempted reconciliation with Cuba recently announced by President Obama. Despite the fact that American companies are already making plans to do business on the island, the project could be put on hold for a while.

U.S. property valued at US$1.9 billion was seized by Fidel Castro when he took control of Cuba in the 1050s. The property was owned by U.S. companies as well as private citizens.

Both President Eisenhower and President Kennedy made attempts to force the Castro-led Cuban government to pay for the seized property. However, Castro never did. Consequently, the United States retaliated by establishing a trade embargo with Cuba that is still in effect.

This trade embargo prevents U.S. companies from doing business with Cuba.

As President Obama is seeking to normalize relations with Cuba, you might think that the trade embargo will soon be lifted. However, in an article titled “Claimed,Slate explains why the embargo will be around for a while longer.

All of the claims for the property that Castro seized still exist and federal law requires that they be paid before the embargo can be lifted.

Most of the claims are corporate claims, but many smaller claims exist that have been passed down through the estates of private citizens. Many Americans have a stake in those claims through the estate plans of their ancestors. They have to receive satisfaction before the government can lift the embargo.

The federal government does have a unilateral right to settle all of the claims, but it has not made a move to do so. Individuals with claims against Cuba could also negotiate individually for satisfaction, but that is unlikely to happen.

If you believe you have a claim against Cuba for seized property keep a watchful eye on the news coming out about the possible reconciliation and discuss the issue with an estate planning attorney in regards to an estate plan.

Reference: Slate (Nov. 29, 2015) “Claimed

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Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.