So now that you’re thinking about making a new Will*, here are our top 5 decisions that you should include in what is arguably the most important document you will ever sign….
1. Scope of your Will - Where is my Will going to apply?
You may have assets in the UAE and you may also have assets in your home country. In addition, it is no longer uncommon for people to own holiday homes in exotic locations, or invest in foreign businesses. These factors, along with considerations such as dual nationality should be borne in mind when drafting your Will – the traditional position of one Will per person is fast becoming outdated. An individual can put more than one Will in place to cover assets in different jurisdictions, and the Will must be clear in the describing the coverage of the document. Furthermore, if more than one Will is being executed, you must ensure that the earlier Wills are not revoked by the later Wills – attention to drafting the documents is paramount.
2. Executors - Who is going to do the hard work?
Choosing an executor for your Will is not a decision that should be taken lightly. The role of an executor is to administer your assets in accordance with your wishes stated in the Will after all debts, liabilities and expenses have been settled. For this role, a sensible, responsible and trustworthy individual must be chosen, who would have an awareness of your assets and who can be relied upon to execute your decisions in the best interests of your family and your estate. You can appoint more than one executor to share the burden.
3. Guardianship - What happens to the kids?
Although your children may think that they can look after themselves, the naming of guardians in a Will is vital if you have children under the age of 21; Guardians can either be temporary, for example to care for the children for an interim period of time; or they can be permanent. Depending on your circumstances, you may need to appoint both types of guardians. Permanent – or testamentary guardians effectively step into your shoes as parents and would be responsible for making all the important decisions that a parent would otherwise make – where the child lives, which school they attend, consent to medical treatment etc. As your child grows up, it is always advisable to consult them as to whom they would be comfortable having as their guardians.
4. Financial assets – Property, cash, investments, land
Arguably, the primary purpose of making a Will is to name beneficiaries who would receive your financial assets. This includes cash in bank accounts, investments, land / property / buildings and it is advisable not only to name primary beneficiaries to inherit these assets but also substitute beneficiaries to receive the assets in the event the primary beneficiaries predecease you.
5. Death Tax? – Minimising your exposure
Many jurisdictions impose a tax on the value of the deceased’s estate before the assets can pass to the beneficiaries. Inheritance taxes can be avoided or minimized by putting a valid Will in place and in such cases it is imperative to seek specialist legal advice on the most appropriate and tax-efficient way to draft your Will.
Ultimately, it is advisable to seek specific legal advice from a licensed legal practitioner to ensure that the Will adequately represents your intentions, protects your assets and most importantly, your loved ones. Contact Tasleem Sayani (Head of Wills, Estates & Succession Planning) at email@example.com for further information.
*If you already have a Will, perhaps you need to amend it? (Not sure? Read our previous article here )
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