Is a last will really need?
“I’m going to pick up my will.” Never did I expect this sentence to create such frightened looks. When I told my family and friends about my will, I almost immediately had to explain why. “No, I’m not sick, no, really, I’m good.” But why, why would you create a will?
Do I need a will?
It’s a personal decision and it also depends on your circumstances. Living in a region that follows Sharia law, you as a non-Muslim may wish to protect your assets as you wish. Without a will in place, a judge may rule how your legacy will be live on.
Too many expats here ignore the freezing of bank accounts when someone, especially the spouse and often the visa sponsor, passes away. Unable to pay with the debit or credit card or withdraw cash, mourning family members are thrown into new emotional chaos. How do you pay for simple things like food or the funeral? Those should not be worries when a loved one has passed! Having a will in place can speed up the proceed to get the death certificate release and the bank accounts unfrozen.
By now, I’ve 2 wills in place. The first one was drafted a few years ago. My employer at the time saw it was a vital document for its expat population and contributed to the fees for a public notary will. This one only covers my belongings in this country. Living in a region that follows Sharia law, it was important to me as a non-Muslim to be in charge of my beneficiaries. I didn’t want to leave it up to faith or a judge to determine who’ll inherit what.
The second one is for my worldwide belongings (excluding this region) and was drafted last year. That one probably shocked family and friends more. After all, in Europe, you have inheritance matters defined by law and don’t necessarily create a separate will.
Which one is best for me?
You can register a will with the Public Notary or with the DIFC. The DIFC is an independent English language common law judiciary and since mid-2019, DIFC wills can cover worldwide assets. While the fees for a DIFC one are starting at AED 5,000, they are higher than the public notary will. Speak with your lawyer to find the best option for you.
Where do I get a will?
You can visit your lawyer or go to the Wills & Probate Registry in the DIFC, depending on which will you want. Most lawyers ask you for your details and asset allocation prior to your meeting. You’ll need to take your passport when you sign the document.
How long does the process take?
The entire process is relatively quick. Most lawyers often producing the draft within a few hours or a day or two.
An official translator translates from English into Arabic and may take 1-2 days. The document will show both languages and you’ll need to register it with the Public Notary in Gold and Diamond Souq on SZR. There are no appointments and you’re advised to walk in early in the morning (I was there when they opened and was out within 20-30 minutes).
The appointment with the DIFC Wills Service takes about 1 hour to register your will. You need to bring two witnesses who are over the age of 21 and not your beneficiaries. They need to also show their ID.
Creating a will may be an odd feeling, however, I know now that my legacy will live on as I wish. Haha, my sister also got the instruction to not spend it all on shoes. Joking aside, living abroad, it gives me the peace of mind should something happen to me, my beneficiaries are taken care off. Wouldn’t you like to experience that feeling too?
Until next time,