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Estate Planning in Dubai - For Expats Living and Working in Dubai

Sunil here to talk about estate planning in Dubai

As you know I have loads of friends and family as well in Dubai.

Many of them are not your typical expats settled in Dubai.

Rather these are expats living and working in Dubai. They have been for years.

These folks all have strong local networks and have established successful businesses over the years.

With successful businesses come a progressive accumulation of wealth.

Because Dubai had gone through an unprecedented economic boom in the early and mid 2000s, many expats living and working in Dubai became very rich.

So why the discussion on estate planning in Dubai for expats settled there? Because a lot of wealth is at stake here. As a CPA and financial planner, I have been asked by many of my friends in Dubai how to successfully manage and pass on their wealth to the next generation without loosing much of it?

The most basic advice is obviously to have a will at the very least. In the USA, there is a concept of a living revocable trust, which avoids probate and unnecessary expenses and disputes involved with a will.

I am sure will be adopted by most legal systems across the world. But until then, a good will is critical. I also recommend you have a good attorney / lawyer prepare it for you. Get all the necessary power of attorney documents executed as well and in your files.

Dubai Expats fear the Sharia Law

What if all your wealth is eroded in unnecessary court fees and legal costs? What if the women in your family (wife, sisters, daughters) are not entitled to your wealth? Where will they live? How will they eat? Women have no rights for the most part to say it simply.

Very valid questions, and ones that are very hard to answer within the confusing Sharia Law. Read this exerpt:

“A source of significant controversy both inside and outside the Muslim community is the Islamic law of inheritance; the “law” is in fact a continuing process of the interpretation of Qurantic rules and principles to form the complex “laws” of inheritance under Islam.

Under the UAE Civil Code, Federal Law No.2 of 1987 (“Code”), Article 17(1) provides: ‘Inheritance shall be governed by the law of the deceased at the time of his death.’ Therefore, the law of domicile shall apply. However, in relation to real property, as an exception, Article 17(5) specifically states that “The law of the UAE shall apply to wills made by aliens disposing of their real property located in the State”. (Reference to the “State” is a reference to the United Arab Emirates.)

Additionally, Article 1219(2) of the Code provides that inheritance issues and transfers of estates shall be subject to the provisions of the Islamic Shariá and the laws passed giving effect thereto. With regard to wills specifically, Article 1258 of the Code states that the provisions of the Islamic Shariá and the legislative provisions deriving there from shall apply to wills.”

Long story short – lots of complications. Lots of troubles and a ton of uncertainty. What about wills of expats? Read further.

“An application needs to be made for a grant of representation in the deceased’s country of domicile. Once probate is obtained, it must be notarized, legalized and/or attested before it may be recognized by UAE government authorities as authentic and valid.

Upon recognition by the government authorities of the deceased’s representatives and confirmation that the will may be distributed in accordance with the laws of the country to which the deceased belonged, the trustees or executors would have full power to administer the deceased’s estate in accordance with his wishes.”
Further complications and uncertainties as you can see. The local courts have the liberty to choose and interpret law as they wish, and you can just guess the potential room to wiggle around in the decision making process.

What is my best recommendation?

Why even bother exposing your assets that you have worked so hard for to this process. Why not take the precautions to avoid the potentially nasty repercussions?

My professional mind advises offshoring assets in a legal and tax favorable jurisdiction that will not only continue tax free growth of wealth, but also afford you the confidentiality, privacy and protection of assets from seizures by local governments.

Many offshore jurisdictions that offer these benefits are also protected under either the United Kingdom or United States governments. This is something you must look into if you are concerned about wealth / asset protection in Dubai.

Contact me and we can discuss your estate planning in Dubai. Let’s discuss how you can achieve your goals and objectives.

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