Be prepared and protect yourself and your family in the event of an emergency or death in the UAE
It’s a subject no one wants to talk about. The death of a loved one is harrowing, but the situation can be made more traumatic if the right systems are not in place. After all, the last thing anyone wants when grieving someone’s passing is to be in court fighting to take control of what’s rightfully theirs.
It’s a situation that Mohammad Deepak Marria, unfortunately, sees all too often. As managing director of Just Wills, Mohammad deals with many people whose spouses have passed away but not created a succession plan, including a will, leaving their widows to fight for guardianship of children, ownership of property and access to savings.
“A will is a document you draft where you leave instructions to someone about what to do with your estate upon your passing away,” Mohammad explains. “It is something that is important to leave behind to somebody so that in the case of passing away, someone knows exactly what your wishes were.”
While it sounds like common sense, Mohammad says a surprising number of people don’t actually have a will: “From my experience, when people are coming to the UAE they’re assuming they’re here for the short term, so they’re not planning far ahead. Many people assume they won’t have money here and won’t buy a property.”
He adds, “People assume the will they have in their home country will work; they assume that the law in their home country will apply here by default. They also think the embassy will help them do the work, and they find it expensive.”
But the importance of creating a will speaks for itself. In the UAE, Sharia law applies, meaning in the event of a person’s passing, if there is no will, the assets will be distributed according to the Islamic law of inheritance. By creating a will, a person’s assets – whether that’s money, children or property – will be dealt with as per their instructions.
“You have to make sure your will is registered in the country where your assets are held.
“When I draft a will, I’m looking at everything. It doesn’t have to be property, it could be the guardianship of your children or a document to cover your end of service benefits.
“You have gratuity, which is governed by labour law. An employee might get three times his annual income as company life insurance so when I’m drafting a will, I’m covering that
as well,” Mohammad adds.
But more than just drafting a will, completing a succession plan includes creating a life insurance policy and securing a power of attorney, with each aspect working hand-in-hand in the event of an emergency or death.
Power of attorney dictates who can make decisions on your behalf in the event of you being incapacitated, for example if you are in a coma. Meanwhile, your life insurance policy can be valued and will determine who receives the money in the event of your passing.
Keep in mind that in the case of a death, the person’s bank accounts will be frozen and visas cancelled, making it difficult to pay off any debts or liabilities.
“If you get a lump sum after a person has died, it could help the family leave the country, pay for rent or any expenses, because all accounts will be blocked,” Mohammad says.
For this reason, Mohammad highlights his housekeeping tips that everyone should follow:
Keep separate bank accounts: When the breadwinner passes away, usually the husband, all single and joint accounts are blocked. It’s recommended to have a separate account for the wife.
Stay on a separate visa: If the wife is working, she should have a separate visa.
Always keep a list of assets you own: If you and your partner both pass away, does your family know where the money is? Maintain an inventory, a list of assets, in a spreadsheet. Write everything down, share the information, email it to someone.
Complete all beneficiary forms: Make this part of your inventory so that people know where the money is and who it should be going to.
To find out more about creating a succession plan, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, justwills.ae