The United Arab Emirates have a population of around 9.5 million of which, 80% are expats and it is estimated that approximately 70% of the expats community is made by non-Muslims. The leaders of the United Arab Emirates are extremely welcoming, accepting and forward-thinking in the region so it is no wonder why so many expats have moved and made their homes in the UAE.
It must be remembered and respected that the United Arab Emirates is still an Islamic country and the governing law is Sharia. In terms of personal legal matters for example, there are many laws which will appear strange to non-Muslim cultures. It must also be remembered that expats help enrich society and bring business and tourism to the region.
While it is not the most cheerful of subjects to consider and face, anyone who is not a Muslim with assets situated in this country should as an absolute necessity have an appropriately drafted will registered here. The consequences of passing away without a will can leave the heirs/beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate a multitude of inconvenient issues and problems with which to deal.
As just a simple example, anyone living here must have a bank account. If the deceased has no will but does have bank accounts and/or joint account(s) with a spouse, those bank accounts will all be automatically frozen. Only once probate has been granted in the Sharia courts and all debts have been paid, will those accounts be unfrozen. The delay that this could cause, would undoubtedly lead to a plethora of problems where there is a family involved with children and a household with monthly outgoings to run.
Other unwanted issues affecting the deceased’s immediate family could also arise as a consequence of the estate being administered under Sharia law. Under Sharia law the division of assets where there is no will is very different to that of the western world. Male heirs and parents will be automatically bequeathed a larger share of the estate than a female spouse.
There are various methods now in circulation with which to circumvent such issues and such tools should be considered a necessity for anyone wishing to manage his or her assets in a pragmatic manner.
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