Expats in Dubai urged to make legal wills to avoid problems after they’ve passed

Published:  16 Oct at 6 PM
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Long-stay expatriate professionals living and working in the UAE are being urged to make a formal will.If the worst happens and your husband dies whilst employed as an expat.

ln the UAE, the lack of a formal last will and testament can cause stress and hardship to the deceased's family. Given the cultural differences between Western expatriates and local people, it’s no surprise that making a will is last on the list of must-dos for the majority of expats working in Dubai. Unfortunately, local laws on disposing possessions without a succession certificate can be overwhelming for expat wives and families mourning the loss of a loved one.

According to lawyers, the process itself is simple and straightforward and only turns into a nightmare if the bereaved have to repatriate to the home country or if it’s not possible to afford a local lawyer. If there are property disputes and families are insisting on their share, it’s more expensive than when everyone agrees to allocate bequests according to the deceased’s known wishes.

Should no will exist, the bereaved person must go back to the home country to obtain a succession certificate, a process which can take over a month. The required documents must be in the Arabic language and must be notarised, attested and legalised by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before being filed as a petition at the Dubai court. Subsequently, the court will examine the documents and ascertain the assets of the bereaved.

All assets, whether moveable or immovable, must be declared to the court along with documentary evidence of ownership. Submissions will be taken and a court order will finally be granted and executed. Laws on the matter vary between Moslems and non-Moslems as Sharia law implications apply to members of the faith.

One expat wife whose husband died suddenly without having made a will had huge issues as everything was in her deceased husband’s name. All assets were immediately frozen and, as there was a daughter of the marriage, the wife had to receive clearance from her in-laws and her late husband’s siblings. She’s still attempting to sell her husband’s car and is only allowed to make the sale as her daughter and the other family members won’t yet provide power of attorney documentation. Once she has the documents, she can sell the car.
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