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‘Will’ you be protected?

Legal will

Preparing a Will may not be something you would like to spend time doing, but it is something important to do especially when you are living as an expat in the UAE. Financial advisors Rupert Connor and Natalie Storey from Acuma Wealth Management

June 27, 2012 11:46 by

Many expat families in Dubai are in a situation where the husband is the breadwinner. The woman can be highly dependent on the income her husband provides-leaving her extremely vulnerable if something should happen to her husband. The sooner you have provisions in place, the easier you can sleep at night if in the worst case scenario happened. First of all, have you got a Will in place? This allows you to express your wishes if you or your husband were to no longer be here. Your Will can include many things; from your children to financial matters. Have you thought about who you would like to raise your children if you were no longer here? Secondly, do you have life insurance in place? If your husband was to pass away, do you have adequate resources to carry on family life without it causing you worry and stress? Lastly, are you included in your partner’s pension, do you have entitlement to it if he was no longer around? All of these things are important issues to consider now.

Living Abroad

Things get a little more complicated if you are living abroad. For example, if death occurs in the UAE, and you are a non-Muslim expatriate then all your assets are frozen, and this includes any joint assets also.

So, if your spouse were to die here in the UAE then you would have no access to any joint bank accounts. And it is most unlikely that any joint assets, such as bank accounts, will ever be retrieved without the presentation of a locally recognized Will.

Custody of Children

In the event of a parent’s death, Sharia law dictates that it is the next male relative who is given custody or guardianship of the children. And until that person can take custody, the children will be placed under care in an institution. Whereas, the creation of a locally recognized Will allows you to appoint guardians, or temporary guardians, to protect against this particular situation.

Sharia Law

Not having a Will in place will mean your late husband’s estate will be dealt with intestate according to Sharia Law, the implications of which are:

Under Sharia Law a woman only receives an eighth of her husband’s assets.

Under Sharia Law, real estate may go to the nearest male relative not to you or any other beneficiaries.


A Will is primarily a legal declaration of your wishes and can cover every facet of your Estate. There is also the option to appoint an executorial trustee to administer the Estate if there are company or business dealings involved. The person who carries out the directions set forth in a will can also be a trustee of an Estate once the Executors duties have been completed. But when it comes to substantial and Estates it’s best to appoint an independent Executor who can act in an arbitrary fashion and remove the chance of any conflict of interest.

An Executor is usually a specialist in their field, i.e business activity, and thereby the best person to deal with the particular company or business in the event of a director or shareholders death and how that death affects the business. The executor’s responsibility is always to the beneficiaries.

If you already have a Will this can be amended or re-written, as circumstances invariably change.

However, the law and how a Will is written are dependent on your own nationality so I would always recommend taking specific advice with regards to your own country’s requirements.

Once you have a Will in place it is important to check it regularly as your circumstances may change in years to come. The other question that is often asked is with regards to translation in to Arabic. As your Will may change over the years there is little point in paying for it to be legally translated until the Will is needed as every time you make a change you will need to have it re-translated.

Although this is a sensitive issue that none of us would like to think about, if we plan for the future and for circumstances beyond our control, then the provision will make things that little bit easier. Another thing to consider is, is how involved are you with your financial affairs? Do you know what investments you have and where they are held? It is always a good idea to review your circumstance and seek advice. A trust may be useful, for example to benefit your children when they come of age to help them in the future. There are many areas financial advisers can assist you with to preserve, protect and grow your finances.


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