Whenever and wherever you are in the world and unfortunate enough to die, there will be a prescribed process which the authorities will follow. If there is a valid will in place, then the process is called Probate without one, it is called dying intestate and the rules of intestacy apply.
In the UAE, Sharia law applies and in the absence of a will, generally speaking, the following will happen:
• If the husband dies, the wife will inherit 1/8th of his estate and 100% of his debt.
• Sole and joint bank accounts, will be frozen sometimes as quickly as within 1 hour of death.
• Children will inherit more than their mother
Now before we all get up in arms and complain how unfair it all is; let us look at what happens in other countries:
Married partners or civil partners inherit under the rules of intestacy only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. Therefore, if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. However, partners who separated informally can still inherit under the rules of intestacy. If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £250,000, the partner will inherit:
• All the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
• The first £250,000 of the estate, and
• A life interest in half of the remaining estate. This means that if you are entitled to the life interest, you cannot get rid of or spend that part of the estate. You can, however, have the benefit of it during your lifetime.
Linda Mckay of This is Money states: “HMRC will appear like a specter at a funeral over any estate of worth so it is wise to seek advice to ensure your money stays where you intend.” Don’t forget that Inheritance Tax applies on your worldwide assets, not just those located in the UK. Being domicile is not the same as resident for tax purposes.
If you die leaving a surviving spouse and two children, the spouse will receive 1/4 of your estate and the children 2/3 of your estate, with the remaining 1/12th freely disposable, for example to your surviving spouse.
If you die leaving no surviving spouse and two children, the children will automatically be entitled to 2/3 of your estate, and you are free to dispose as you wish of 1/3 of your estate.
Okay, so we have established that I am the harbinger of doom; what can you do about it?
1. Take professional advice from both a financial planner to establish a plan of action and a solicitor experienced in drafting both local wills and those of your home country.
2. Action that advice!