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GUARDIANSHIP

The care of minor children where one of the parents has died may not automatically fall to the surviving parent for example where the child is adopted or a stepchild of the surviving parent. Under UAE Federal Law 28 of 2005 concerning Personal Status, only the father has the right to appoint a guardian for any of his minor children.

Within the local law, parenting is split into two spheres: tutelage (which includes guardianship) and fostering. Tutelage is the right of the father and the male line whilst fostering is the right of the mother and the female line. It is possible for the father to appoint the mother as a guardian or another person if she has pre-deceased him.

It is sensible to appoint temporary guardians for minor children resident in UAE whilst they await the arrival of their legal guardians appointed under your Will.

Complications arise where there is no Will. Under local law, the child will be a beneficiary of the deceased’s parent’s estate which is within UAE. This can result in lengthy and expensive legal action if challenged which may not prove to be successful.

Practical formal legal steps which can be taken are the registration of a guardian appointment letter with the local court and a Guardianship Will written under the DIFC. For more information on this important area, please contact us.

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WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT HAVE A WILL?

Why pay for a Will, if you do not need it? In some circumstances, there is no need for a Will. However, for expatriates living in UAE, this is very rare.

Where no valid Will exists or no Will can be found the deceased will be treated as having died ‘intestate’. The treatment of the deceased’s assets depends on factors such as where the assets are located.

For assets in UK, married couples with children have a right to all of their deceased spouse’s personal effects as well as the first £250,000 of the estate plus half of any amount over £250,000. The balance is distributed evenly between the children. This can cause problems. For instance, where the main asset is the matrimonial home and one of the children wants their inheritance causing the property to be sold.

Where there are assets in UAE and there is no Will the situation is complex, local law requires a Sharia scholar to be appointed. This person will oversee the distribution of the assets within UAE in accordance with Sharia principles. The distribution will depend on the relatives of the deceased and others who may make a legitimate claim on the assets such as lenders.

For further information, please contact us.

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