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Dubai: It does not matter how many assets you own and how big of a cash king you are. You should always be prepared. If you do not have a proper will drawn up in the UAE, then your assets will be divided according to the Sharia law. 

1. Disclose all of your assets

When you decide to make a will, ensure you pen down a full list of all assets including your bank account details, properties owned in and outside UAE. This is to ensure, the person inheriting the will has a ready reckoner of all the cash, jewellery and properties being willed.

Mohammad Marria, founder of will writing company Just Wills said: “There can be secrets in families where people do not disclose their assets or their accumulated savings to their spouse or children. This is not necessarily healthy as one can leave a whole lot of problems for the heir or successor to locate all the estates being left behind. Do you know how many assets go missing or dormant after a person passes away. This happens when you do not disclose full list of assets to the family,” he said.

“Sadly when a person dies and his assets are not fully disclosed in a will, the inheritor and family members do not get enough time to mourn the loss of their loved one. Instead the will inheritor has to deal with the issue of locating the assets. This can be a very unnecessary and a very tedious task,” said Marria.

Also remember in the UAE, as per the Inheritance Law, all assets of a person are frozen as the UAE courts need a clear list of assets of the deceased to pass it on to the rightful successor.

“In cases where the family does not know where the assets are placed – the inheritor will not be able to receive the Dubai Courts order of transferring the assets into his name. In such cases, banks in particular sit on the funds until they receive Dubai Courts order.”

According to Marria, this is not a UAE issue but a global problem where banks sit on unclaimed assets.

Take the case of a Dubai resident, V.K, who claimed his father did not mention a full list of assets in his will, said: “My father did not tell me about the assets he owned. I had a vague notion about it, but nothing was clearly mentioned. Having said that, the will was clearly written out with respect to who will be the successor. Almost everything was clearly written down. But there were one or two things which were not written down. Then there was a land which my father had bought with my cousin. Unfortunately, he did not make a will for it and so unfortunately we lost that land and never bothered claiming a share on it,” he told Gulf News.

He added: “Every asset holder must make a complete list of assets in possession and pen it down as an addendum to their will. Besides, this should be regularly updated as and when any new asset is purchased by the asset holder.”

2. Keep the will generic

Ali Al Haddad, head of Haddad & Associates and chairman at Lawyer Business Group said: “My advice would be to keep the will generic. Have an addendum with a full list of assets. Reason being, when a will is duly attested, if you want to more assets to the will it means – you have to go through the entire process of making a fresh new will. So effectively, the best way to deal with this is prepare a full list of assets in the addendum and link it to the will,” said Al Haddad.

3. Attest your international assets with the UAE embassy

He said for any asset located outside the UAE, the title deed of the property needs to be attested by the UAE embassy in the country where the asset is located.”

Another piece of advice from the renowned lawyer in Dubai is make sure to include the mention of residuals in an Inheritance Will. Residuals can mean assets like jewellery, cars etc.

4. Draw up a succession certificate to make the deceased’s account dormant

Jamal Saleh, director general of United Banks Federation (UBF), it is not easy for an account to become dormant – especially considering Central Bank of UAE’s updated rules. But when an account becomes dormant, the legal heir who wishes to claim it – has to write to the Central Bank of UAE (CBUAE) and provide all inheritance details. All that the entity needs is to provide the succession certificate duly issued by Dubai Courts.

“A legal heir can claim money from dormant account at any given time as long as they can provide the succession certificate. To the best of my knowledge, almost all banks apply the limits/thresholds that are prescribed by CBUAE in core matters. Variations may exist in none core treatments,” he said.

5. Keep the costs in mind

Marria said the cost of making a will can go up to Dh2,200 a person at Dubai Courts, Dh950 a person at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.