What is a will?
A will is a legal document that sets forth how and to whom all your hard earned assets and belongings should be vested with once you are gone. In an unfortunate scenario, if you die without a will, those wishes may not be fulfilled as you desired. Moreover, it may cause additional emotional stress, money and time to your loved ones in settling your affairs if you die intestate.
Why should I make a will, and what can your will cover?
Making a will is the only way to ensure that your assets go to your loved ones in the way that you would like. If you have not made a will, the UAE personal status courts will decide how your estate is distributed.
Appointing guardians for your children – A will is particularly important if you have children who are minors, and are residing in the UAE.
Distribution of your estate
You can direct the way you wish for your estate to be divided and used, and also use it to setup a trust. Even in the event you do not have substantial financial or property assets you may still have important personal possessions (like jewellery, watches) which you may wish to leave to particular people or charities, or a favoured cause.
Freezing of assets
The government will freeze your assets, even if under joint names until all liabilities are cleared. The procedure to unfreeze the assets can prove cumbersome, however the process is expedited where a valid will is in place.
Avoid family disputes
If you do not leave a will you are increasing the chances of your estate being distributed to heirs you did not intend, and risking causing family disputes later on. By making a will you can avoid any dispute by making it clear exactly what you want to happen.
You can use a will to specify your funeral wishes.
When should I write a will?
If you have accumulated some assets, and you care who will receive those assets after you die, it’s time to write a Will. Anyone with minor children definitely should have a will. In it, you can name the person you want to raise your children in the event of your death, and also should something happen to you and your spouse. Discuss this carefully with the prospective guardian, to be sure he or she is up to the job. Also, name an alternate guardian in your Will as a backup. On the other hand, if you’re a young unmarried adult, and have no children, with no substantial possessions, you probably don’t need a will yet.
What if I die without a will?
There has been recent amendments and significant changes to the Wills and Inheritance laws in UAE. Prior to the amendment, in the absence of a Will, the family members who you may not wish to, could inherit your assets or be appointed guardians of your children. Likewise, people who were not blood relatives but who you would like to inherit, might not receive anything. Earlier if you died without leaving a valid Will, (‘intestate’) your estate would be distributed according to the laws of Sharia in the UAE.
Until now, family members of a deceased person, particularly in acrimonious cases, could have found assets were divided under Sharia, but with the introduction of the latest amendment , a person’s citizenship will dictate how their assets are divided among their next of kin, unless they have written a will. The one exception is for property purchased in the UAE, which will be managed according to UAE law’.
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