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Why expats must have a registered will in the UAE

Published: Wed 23 Feb 2022, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 24 Feb 2022, 4:09 PM

Making a will is often correlated with facing the hard truth of passing away someday. Caught up in the fast-paced life in the UAE, expats can often ignore the uncertainty of life. Thinking it can be taken care of in their twilight years, people usually brush aside the subject of planning their estate and drawing up a will in their prime.

“Most people toil every day so that their loved ones can lead a comfortable life even in their absence. It can be difficult to digest the scenario that your hard-earned wealth could end up being useless to your kin. This is very much possible if you pass away without properly planning your estate. A will is a must-have to secure your family’s future”, said Muhammad Tariq, partner at Legal Inz.

The recent pandemic ushered in a dramatic change in the perception of the general populace on the world and how feeble life can really be. With escalating numbers of individuals succumbing to the deadly virus, people have been urged to see the bigger picture in life. Perhaps the only silver lining of this pandemic is the fact that we were given a reality check on the fickle nature of life and how it will always be in our advantage to plan for the future. One of the areas where this positive change was reflected, has been in estate planning in the UAE. Since the onset of the pandemic, the applications for drafting wills have seen an exponential increase.

A fact unbeknownst to many, is that upon a person’s death in the UAE, their bank accounts will be frozen within a matter of hours. Whether single or joint, their bank accounts will not be accessible even by their spouse, until a relevant court order is issued for the same. This whole ordeal could take weeks, or in worst-case scenarios, even a couple of months.

Aiman Fatima, director, Legal Inz, said: “We have had clients staking claim over the assets of their spouse or a parent who had passed away without a will. The crisis a family goes through trying to reopen the bank accounts and filling inheritance claims, all while battling grief is indescribable.”

Cases of families quarrelling over property inheritance are definitely not unprecedented. A conflict between family members might be the last thing a person would imagine happening upon their demise. A simple legal document like a will stating property distribution can rule out any potential family disputes. Legal Inz is a law firm in the UAE that has helped numerous clients in planning their estate efficiently with minimal hassle. The advantage that they offer is their online platform, which allows one to order a will and plan your estate online. It has revolutionised the manner in which legal services are rendered to clients.

What concerns most legal experts is the unawareness of the UAE residents regarding the implications of not having a will. It may come as a startling fact to many, but after a man’s demise, his wife does not automatically become the legal guardian of their minor children. Once again, the courts in the UAE determine the legal guardian for the minor children in accordance with the Shariah Law. To declare his wife as the guardian, provisions for guardianship can be added to a will.

The asset distribution for a Muslim expat in the UAE is governed by the Shariah Law. Meanwhile, non-Muslim expats can expect the law of their home country would come into effect for their moveable assets in the UAE according to the latest amendments to the personal status law. However, the Shariah Law would still be applied for the distribution of real estate assets of a non-Muslim expat who passes away without a will.

The entire process of drafting a will and notarising it may feel like a daunting task. Leaving out essential details or even the most minuscule of drafting errors could lead to serious implications in the future. One must bear in mind that a flawed will can be viewed as invalid, and an invalid will could jeopardise your efforts in planning your estate and put you back to square one. This is exactly why it is recommended that you seek the help of qualified and experienced law firms such as Legal Inz to do the deed. Draft a will with Legal Inz at www.legalinz.com/wills-uae/ now to get started.

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