Giving thought to preparing a Will
- When do you think expats in the UAE should start thinking of having a will prepared? How important do you think it is for people not to procrastinate on this and why?
TWS: For expatriates in the UAE, there is a very simple reason to make a will. The Dubai Government official website states that ‘the UAE Courts will adhere to Shari’ah law in any situation where there is no will in place’. This means if you die without a will, the local courts will examine your estate and distribute it according to Sharia law.
The absence of a will also allows authorities to allocate the guardianship of any surviving children according to Sharia law, especially if both were to die simultaneously. Unless a will specifies who should raise your children, there is a possibility that their care will be entrusted to relatives other than the surviving spouse.
For many people, making a will is a task you intend to complete someday, but seldom give priority to. Thinking about your own death is not pleasant, but postponing the preparation of a will results in one dying ‘intestate’, leaving you with a limited input in the future of your wealth, assets, business and even children. Bearing all this in mind, the answer is that the best time to make a will is ‘now’.
- How often would you recommend people to come back and update or amend a will?
TWS: The following would trigger the review of a will:
- If you marry or divorce
- The birth or adoption of children
- The addition or change of guardians for children
- The death of a beneficiary
- The desire to add alternative beneficiaries
- The death or incapacity of a named executor or trustee
- What are the most common mistakes made when it comes to people creating wills, or in the process after the death of a relative/family member, in this region – and how would you recommend people avoid these mistakes?
TWS: Wills which have been prepared by those not qualified to do the same or Wills which are written by the testator them self, often contain mistakes and have vital clauses missing. There are a number of ways of having a will drafted. The main factors to consider when choosing a method of will drafting is:
- will it be enforceable when you die;
- has it been prepared by someone qualified to do so
- Will your estate be passed on to the beneficiaries you choose.
The slightest error or misuse of legal terms can cause disputes or cause the will to be invalid. You may think that your ‘homemade’ will is clear, but you will not be there to clarify any misunderstanding or dispute between family members when the time comes.Sometimes lawyers make more money dealing with probate disputes over badly written wills than they would by correctly drafting salient wills in the first place.
Here are just a few reasons why a will may be invalid or ineffective:
- The will has not been signed and witnessed correctly – strict rules apply about who can be a witness and how it should be carried out. Each country has different rules as to how a Will is to be witnessed/attested.
- A witness is also a beneficiary.
- Dependents are left out of the will, leaving it open to being contested/challenged at probate stage.
- Amending a will incorrectly or marking it after completion, which can be seen as tampering.
Expats in the UAE need to be aware that it is prudent to engage a licensed and registered lawyer to draft a will rather than them undertaking the process themselves.
We would therefore always recommend consulting with a qualified and experienced lawyer licensed by the Dubai Legal Affairs Department.
- Many people who settle down in the UAE plan on having a will prepared eventually, but due to procrastination, they often have no idea where to start. What would your advice be to someone in this situation?
TWS: It is highly advisable for adults to prepare a Will or give serious thought to doing so and seek advice in relation to the same. It is an essential document, due to the fact that it describes how one’s estate should be distributed and by naming guardians for the children of the family. Most importantly it avoids potential disputes between the family and loved ones left behind by the deceased. Statistics confirm that between 60-80 percent of adults do not have a Will, and of equal concern is that most people with a Will do not regularly review it to make sure that it is still in line with their wishes.
- I have heard about DIFC Wills. What does it offer and how does it benefit Non Muslim expatriates?
TWS: The DIFC Wills Service Centre provides a mechanism for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai/UAE to pass on their assets according to their wishes and nominate guardians for their children of their choosing. The DIFC Wills Service rules provide non-Muslims with the option to choose the way in which their assets are distributed by providing testamentary freedom and a speedy administrative process of a deceased non-Muslim’s estate.
Please contact us to book a consultation, on how you can protect your family and assets in the UAE. Email us on email@example.com or call +971 4 448 4284.
TWS now serves clients as a `one-stop law firm’ based in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai and offers full legal services both in the private client and corporate/commercial services:
Private Client Services:
Wills & Estate Inheritance; DIFC Wills; Abu Dhabi Wills, UK Wills, Administration of a Deceased’s Estate & Probate; Sharia Law and Inheritance issues; Family & Divorce Matters; Custody & Guardianship; Financial Settlements; Division of Assets; Travel Bans; Mediation & Reconciliation; Employment Disputes; Property/Real Estate Matters; Gifting of Property; Powers of Attorney and Certification.
Company Formation & Business set-ups; Drafting/Negotiating of Contracts and Commercial Agreements; Franchising; Joint Ventures; Buying & Selling A Business; Legal Compliance; Litigation; Dispute Resolution; Employment Law.
Why use TWS Legal Consultants:
- Leading and established law firm in Dubai for over a decade
- Fully licensed by the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department
- Fully licensed and approved by Dubai Ruler’s Court
- Our Legal Consultants are qualified professionals
- Are registered at The Law Society of England and Wales/Solicitors Regulatory Authority, to practice as solicitors
- Registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts’ Register of Legal Practitioners
- Leading role in the working panel of the DIFC Wills Service Centre
- Registered a high volume of DIFC Wills at the DIFC Wills Service Centre