The importance of a will for expat residents

Will and testamentImage Credit: Supplied

Now that you have your dream house all set up and housewarming party in order, take a moment to think of the unthinkable. Have you made the necessary arrangements to ensure that your desired beneficiaries can continue to enjoy the house once you are gone?

As an expatriate, if you have a property in Dubai, it is imperative to have a will in place to ensure that your estate is distributed in the manner you desire.

Since the UAE is a Muslim country, in the absence of a legally recognized will at the time of death, the courts will refer to the law of the land or the Shari’a law by default, irrespective of religion.

The law states that the wife will receive only one-eighth of the total value of her husband’s assets, while she will be liable for 100% of his liabilities. The deceased’s parents will receive one-sixth, and for every share received by the daughters, the surviving sons will receive twice as much.

Besides trying to secure your property, the access to funds in your bank account will be taken away almost immediately, and you will be left with additional implications with respect to guardianship of your children.

It is a common misconception that having a will in your country of domicile is sufficient; however, as a resident of the UAE to have any kind of control over the distribution of your assets, what you need in reality is a will that has been created in the UAE.

Creating a will in time is the only way of ensuring a safe and secure future for your family. However, the surprising results of a research conducted on this subject has revealed that there are over 80% of expatriates in the UAE who have not yet initiated the necessary legal steps in this direction.

If you are one of them, what are you waiting for? Get yourself an appointment with a lawyer or a licensed financial advisor who can help you draft a will, keeping in mind the legal jurisdictions of your home country. Make multiple copies of the same in English and Arabic, and get the document attested by the authorities here and in your home country.

Handy Hints
• Shari’a law applies to any deceased expat who owns a property without a will
• The law states that the wife will only get one-eighth of her husband’s assets
• A will is the smartest way to ensure a safe and secure future for your family

See related story: Dubai Property Law: The will of fortune 




Source: Priyanka Wade, Special to Properties
The writer is a freelancer

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