If you’re an expat residing in a jurisdiction that observes Sharia Law, then the importance of having a valid will should not be overlooked. Without a one, those you leave behind could face a number of difficulties when it comes to the distribution of your UAE estate.
So, what is Sharia Law?
Sharia Law governs many aspects of life in many nations of the middle east. From politics, to crime and even financial matters. Sharia courts in the UAE have rightful jurisdiction involving matters such as divorce, child custody and inheritances and this even stretches out to expats living in the UAE.Since 2020 a foreign will can be enacted through the UAE law courts. However, UAE property still remains subject to Shariah Law and would require a local will solution.
Does my current will cover my UAE assets?
Put simply, no. If an expat, for example, had assets in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the UK, it may well be that three separate wills in each of those jurisdictions would be needed.
What can happen if I don’t have a valid will?
• Banks could freeze any of your individual and joint accounts, meaning that your surviving spouse wouldn't be able to access any shared accounts.
• The courts may well deem the children to be the biggest beneficiaries, but that money is not accessible until they are 21.
• Your children could be placed under the care of a local care centre or foster family.
• Your UAE property will be apportioned according to Sharia inheritance laws.
With no will in place, Sharia law determines that a surviving wife who has children will qualify for one eighth of her partners estate. The remainder of the estate will be distributed amongst other family members.
These are important questions that people with families in the UAE should consider:
• Do you know what Shariah Law means for the family finances?
• If you have children in the UAE, do you have a guardianship document? If not, why not?
• Do you need a will in the UAE? How do you go about getting the right one?
• What happens to your visas if the main visa-holder passes away?
• What happens to bank accounts if an accountholder passes away?
• What happens to debts that are left behind by a family member?
• Have you ensured that your family can cope financially if their income vanishes?
There are many myths and uncertainties about these topics, so let us clear these away for you and point you in the right direction.
Why not book a free consultation with one of our family safeguarding specialists who can go through this and point you in the right direction for all things wills? Fill out the form below.