Learn about the need and importance of a Will for every expat living in the UAE. This document gives you and your family the peace of mind and security for their future.
When it comes to tax and financial planning, the most important advice you can receive is to create a Will. Whether you are a multi-millionaire or someone starting out on their financial journey, this legal document is crucial to secure the future of your loved ones in case of any untoward incident.
Will in the UAE
The UAE is home to several expats that often have Wills in their home country. However, if you are an expat, the Will may not be recognised in the UAE. These can lead to freezing of bank accounts and distribution of assets as per the Court’s decision, among others. To secure your hard-earned funds and protect your family, it is crucial to have a Will drafted and registered as per UAE law.
Why do you need a Will?
Making a Will is at the top financial advice given to every individual. Yet, a lot of people still do not have a Will in the UAE. While some are unaware of the possible consequences, some feel that the family is likely to natural receive all assets. Here are four critical consequences that can occur if you do not have a valid Will upon death.
Asset allocation and distribution
Assets include all your bank accounts, real estate, investments and other financial earnings. In case you do not have a valid Will in the UAE, the Sharia Law will come into play and the assets will be distributed by the Courts in accordance with this Law. Sharia Law considers all siblings, parents, children, grand-children and spouse as heirs.
Here, the Court will decide the distribution for all legal heirs as acceptable by Law. To ensure that your assets in the UAE (movable and immovable) are distributed to your loved ones, it is essential to make a Will. Without a legal Will, the Court could distribute your assets to distant relatives, thus reducing the amount available to your immediate family.
Frozen bank accounts for long periods of time
One of the first acts that occur in the UAE post an individual’s death is that all their bank accounts are frozen instantly. These include every single or joint account that the individual was connected with.
In case you have joined accounts with a spouse who dies, the Dubai Courts will freeze all accounts to issue a succession certificate. If the remaining spouse does not have an individual account, they may not be able to access any of the wealth till the accounts are released.
In case of a legal Will, the bank accounts will be transferred to the registered individual. However, in the absence of such a Will, the Court can keep the account frozen till it decides how to distribute the wealth to all applicable heirs as per Sharia Law. In such a case, no money can be withdrawn for anything including grocery, rent, school fees etc. till the Court decides which could take months. Further, for those couples that are not married but want their partner to inherit their wealth, a Will is crucial as the Law would not recognise them as a legal heir.
To ensure that your bank accounts remain active, a legal Will is mandatory. Also, a recommended financial advice for couples is to always have separate accounts over joint accounts. This ensures that even if an unfortunate incident occurs with one spouse, the other is able to access some money to allow for emergencies.
Guardianship of minors
Another crucial aspect of a Will is for parents to appoint guardians for their minor children (below 21 years) in case of heir death. Without such a Will, the Courts will appoint a guardian for the children in accordance with the UAE Law which may or may not be the spouse. To secure your children and ensure their safety it is important to have a valid Will in place detailing their guardianship.
In addition, timely tax and financial planning can help you reduce inheritance tax on all your assets, across geographical locations, by allowing for charitable donations and estate planning.
Loss of UAE visa for dependents
As a husband or a father, you may have spent your lifetime in earning wealth to secure your family. However, in case of the death of the husband, the dependent family’s visa is cancelled and they are required to leave the UAE within 30 days.
Further, if there is no Will distributing the assets to the family, the Courts can take months or years along with huge legal fees before coming to a decision. In case the dependent family is unable to resolve the legal matters of the estate, bank accounts or assets within the given timeframe they can face huge disadvantages.
What you can do
In order to help expats, the Dubai Government offers an option to Notarise Wills and avoid distribution of assets as per Sharia Law.
In such a case, the expat will need a detailed legal document outlining all their assets and required papers in the right format of a Will which will then be attested by the Dubai Notary Public Service.
Note that the Will is applicable to all movable and immovable assets in the UAE. Further, in case the Will was drafted in any foreign language it will have to be translated to Arabic which is to be attested by the Ministry of Justice. Finally, the Notary Public will keep a copy of this Notarized Will for Government records.
Drafting a Will is crucial but if not done correctly can nullify all other Wills and leave your family in peril after your death. To avoid any such concerns and ensure your loved ones receive their due, a valid Will is crucial.
Make your Will today and protect your family’s future!