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Planning for Tomorrow and the Days After

Unexpected death is devastating enough, but the tragedy only gets compounded with related troubles and traumas – ranging from frozen bank accounts to disputed family assets; businesses being handed over to undeserving partners, and sometimes, children being entrusted to people you have not chosen personally.
If you have spent years making money and managing it wisely, it is logical that you must plan for its future and ensure that your wealth, assets, business, and property are passed on to your family, or to the inheritors of your choice. It is important to know about the instruments you can use to achieve these goals.

Personal planning
For expatriates living in the UAE, there is a very simple reason to make a will. The Government of Dubai’s official website states that ‘the UAE Courts will adhere to Sharia 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. While this may sound fine, its implications may not be so. All personal assets of the deceased, including bank accounts, will be seized until liabilities have been discharged. A wife who has children will qualify for only 1/8th of the estate, and without a legal will, this distribution will be applied automatically. Even shared assets will be frozen until the issue of inheritance is determined by the local courts, and surviving family members are often left without access to money during this period.

The absence of a will may also goad authorities to intervene in the guardianship of bereaved children, especially when death befalls both parents simultaneously. Unless a will specifies who should raise your children, there is a possibility that their care may be entrusted to others.

Business planning
If you own or co-own a business, a significant portion of your wealth – and your family’s source of income after your death – is probably linked to it. It is just as important to plan for its future and ensure its seamless continuity and success. You can take recourse in strategic plans like setting up trusts or engaging in numerous off-shore solutions. But since this is a complex area, it is essential to use professional lawyers who can advise you expertly.

If you don’t have proper plans in place, you simply cannot be sure what will happen after your death: whether your family will be provided for, who will look after your business, and when and how your beneficiaries will actually stand to benefit. It is best to be prepared today for all that may and can happen tomorrow.

This article was written by Nita Maru LLB (Hons) UK, Founding Lawyer and Director of Legal Consultancy firm, The Wills Specialists, Licensed by Dubai Legal Affairs Department and The Rulers Court, Government of Dubai. The Wills Specialists understand the enormous implications and importance of making a will as an expat in the UAE. Why not talk to them to find out more?

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