UAE legal consultant Barney Almazar said that without a will, assets of non-Muslims will likely be distributed based on a forced-heirship setup that favors male heirs.
“Because in our culture we find these things (writing wills) off, just like when we talk about death, even if you’re in the Philippines, it’s like a taboo subject,” Almazar told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Marriage and Family Laws legal aid seminar at the Philippine consulate last Saturday.
Almazar noted many Filipinos do not bother to execute a will because they assume Philippine laws are applicable in the UAE.
“Having a will is very important for [expatriates] here in the UAE because there is a provision in the UAE Civil Code that the national law of the deceased will be applicable. But at the same time, there is also a provision in the same civil code that UAE Law should apply. So there is apparent conflict,” he said.
Moveable, immovable assets
The Gulf News report said that in the UAE, the distribution of inheritance classified as moveable assets will be based on the deceased national's laws.
Moveable assets include cars, jewelry, shared stocks, cash and bonds.
However, immovable assets such as real estate properties are governed by Sharia law, it added.
Gulf News cited a 2013 report of the Ministry of Interior’s monthly publication 999 Magazine showing only one to two out of 10 expatriates in the UAE take legal steps toward asset distribution.
Non-Muslim expatriates were advised to make sure all assets, including their end-of-service benefits and joint bank accounts, are included in their will to avoid paralyzing the surviving spouse and children.
Civil registration matters
Philippine Statistics Authority interim national statistician Carmelita Ericta reminded Filipinos to be careful with civil registration matters such as applying for birth or marriage certificates.
Ericta told Gulf News one wrong letter or wrong name mean foregone benefits from insurance, "and your identity is questioned.”
“So if you have an inheritance, there are financial implications,” she said. —Joel Locsin/KBK, GMA News