A Complicated Business
Continuing our series of Q&As on the complexities of sharia law, our wills expert Nita Maru highlights the importance of drawing up a will in the UAE. The consequences of not making a will could seriously affect the future of your family and friends.
Q. IF BOTH MY HUSBAND AND I SUDDENLY DIE IN CAR CRASH IN THE UAE, WHO WILL LOOK AFTER MY CHILDREN?
If you have prepared a Will specifying guardianship provisions then this will provide certainty of care for your minor children; If you haven’t then you face the risk of the local authorities having to the intervene. The worst case scenario will occur when neither parent has prepared a will; in this situation local authorities will have no choice but to step in to safeguard your children. To avoid uncertainty over guardianship and to ensure your children are put in the care of your chosen family or friends then drawing up a will now should be a priority.
Q. WE ARE A MARRIED COUPLE AND CHRISTIAN BY RELIGION. WE OWN VARIOUS PROPERTIES IN DUBAI WHICH ARE MORTGAGED BUT WE DO NOT HAVE WILLS IN PLACE. HOW WILL NOT HAVING WILL, AFFECT THE DISPOSAL OF OUR ASSETS UPON THE DEATH OF EITHER ONE OF US?
First of all you are not alone. It is amazing to hear how many expats do not have a Will here. Without a Will, the general view is that Sharia Law prevails and this means allocation of your assets will be decided on their rules rather that your wishes. However, under the Civil Code of 2005, foreigners can elect to have their assets disposed of under their own home country laws if this is expressed in a will.
Q. WE HAVE BEEN LIVING AND WORKING IN DUBAI FOR NINE YEARS BUT WE DO NOT OWN ANY PROPERTY HERE, THE ONLY ASSETS WE HAVE ARE OUR BANK ACCOUNTS. WE ARE CONTEMPLATING PREPARING A WILL BUT DON’T KNOW IF IT IS REALLY WORTH IT AS MOST OF OUR MAIN ASSETS ARE BACK IN OUR HOME COUNTRY. CAN YOU ADVISE US?
You may not own property here, but have you ever considered that you may have more disposable income here than back in your home country. In addition to the cash you have in your bank accounts you may have a car, a boat, jewellery, art pieces, end of service gratuity etc. and when you calculate the value of your total assets it may amount to a significant figures. If you have a Will in place, your spouse will inherit the entire estate; If you don’t, then your wife will I receive only one eight.
Q. IT HAS BEEN TWO YEARS SINCE MY FRIEND’S WIFE PASSED AWAY, AND THEIR DUBAI JOINT BANK ACCOUNT IS STILL FROZEN. I KNOW SHE DID NOT PREPARE A WILL. DOES THE UNBLOCKING OF AN ACCOUNT USUALLY TAKE THIS LONG?
In the event of death in the UAE, the banks are instructed by the court to freeze all accounts. All outstanding debts have to be cleared before the account is reactivated. However, the banks do not have to work to any time frame and can work at their own pace to chase the debts, this is usually what causes the prolonged delays. If she had a will in place, the process would certainly have been much faster.
Q. WE ARE MARRIED COUPLE WITH CHILDREN LIVING IN DUBAI. DOES MY HUSBAND INHERIT MY ESTATE ABSOLUTELY SHOULD I DIE?
In the absence of a Will, as you have children, he will only inherit a quarter of your estate under Sharia Law. If you have a will in place, you could avoid such distribution to ensure your assets devolve to your husband absolutely.
To avoid such complications, and to ensure your assets go to the people you want, make drawing up a Will in the UAE a necessity rather than a luxury. Such matters are best left to the legal experts and that is why The Wills Specialists enjoy an advantage over other firms.
Can you afford not to talk to them?
Please contact one of our experienced lawyers today for more details. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +971 4 448 4284.