Will You Leave it to Fate?

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

If the unthinkable were to happen, it is important that your affairs are in order – particularly if you have a family. As an expatriate in the UAE it is not just important, it is imperative that you have a Will drafted.

Nobody enjoys talking about death, despite it being a part of life. The conversation is never the nicest to have. However, It only needs to be had once, and then the rest of your life can be spent knowing that you are not going to leave behind a cloud of uncertainty, protracted legal wrangling, and general hassle for your loved ones.

A Will instructs on your estate and financial distribution, who is to look after the kids, and funeral arrangements.

Sharia Law

What is not known by the majority of expats living in the UAE is that in the event of the husband’s death, it may not the mother of the children that gets custody automatically. Under Sharia Law preference is given to the closest male relative on the husband’s side.

The mother can get guardianship on the proviso that she never remarries, however this usually involves a long term court case involving numerous appearances and processes. This applies to all expats residing in the UAE, not just locals.

Preference in terms of financial and estate arrangements is also given to the husband’s side of the family. Often after years in the courts, the husband’s brother, father or cousin will walk away with the majority of any assets left behind. But this only happens if there is no Will in place.

As a non-Muslim, your Will should state that you are not a Muslim, while also specifying your religion and stating that you do not wish UAE law to be applied, instead the laws of your own country should be followed.

If there are any discrepancies in the Will, UAE law will be applied, regardless of nationality, religion or the nature of the error. This is why it is extremely important to get a full qualified and regulated Will writer to draft this important document.

Act Now

There is no reason not to get a Will written, you can never be too young or not have enough money to warrant it. Repatriation arrangements and funeral arrangements are extremely painful to deal with when families are going through a bereavement, sadly this is not a view shared by many expats in the UAE as a shocking 80% do not have a Will in place and prefer to leave their family’s future to chance….

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