What is a will?

A will is a legal declaration that ensures that in the event of your death your assets are passed to the people you want to receive them. It is an important legal document that can make a big difference after you are gone. Making a sound will is the caring thing to do, especially when you have family and dependents. It’s hard enough to deal with the death of a loved one, without them having messy and costly financial and legal issues to deal with too.

Why you need one

If you don’t make a Will, on your death – assuming you leave an inheritance – you will have died intestate. This can cause a great deal of hassle for your loved ones, who may suffer financial hardship and distress whilst your affairs are sorted out, at a time when they least need it.

Without a will you have no say regarding where your assets go. It is not automatic that all assets go directly to a spouse or your family. Your assets are therefore paid to the people of your choosing, not as decided by the laws of the land, which may not be what you want. In some cases monies can end up with a government.

If you have young children it is important to make provision for them or you will have no control over who looks after them should anything happen to you. In such circumstances, the courts will appoint someone on your behalf, someone that you may not have chosen. In addition, assets are usually paid out quicker and with fewer costs.

How to arrange a will

You should deal with a lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your home country.  I do not recommend using someone who is not a legal professional or has just taken a will writing course, as this can be a complicated matter.

Whilst it can be possible to write a will yourself, you have to take care as getting it wrong could be costly. It is said that lawyers make more money out of sorting out badly drafted wills than actually writing them and it is certainly easier to contest a home-made will than one properly written & water-tight.

Points to consider when making a will

  • Home country legislation. Most assets subject to home country laws – not just where resident
  • Executors. You need to choose executors who are both willing and able to deal with paperwork. Ideally there should be two.
  • Guardians for minor children. Who do you want to take on this role if both parents die?
  • Make sure it is signed and properly witnessed. If you overlook that, it will not be valid.
  • Store it safely, in a proper safe storage facility, not at home where could be lost or damaged
  • To make a will you must be of age of majority and of sound mind
  • You do not need a separate will for assets in the UAE. In fact making a second one will invalidate earlier wills
  • Someone who is a beneficiary cannot be a witness, as this invalidates a will.
  • A will can assist with inheritance tax planning
  • You can specify where you want to be laid to rest

Let me be blunt and point out that making a will does not mean that you will die sooner! Many people shy away from dealing with this topic or wills, or indeed anything to do with their deaths, but a will is a way of taking care of people as much as assets and it is remiss not to deal with the issue.

Keren Bobker is an Independent Financial Adviser at Holborn Assets and writes at financialuae.me