Could you advise me about employing an au pair in the UAE? I have two daughters and would like to invite somebody from Europe to help me to look after them. Is it legal to invite au pairs to the UAE? If yes, what type of visa should they have? - SR Sharjah
There is no official au pair programme in the UAE and it is illegal to take someone on to work in your home unless they have a proper work-related visa. There are specific rules that apply if a person wishes to sponsor a maid or domestic servant. These relate to minimum salary, the sponsor not being a bachelor, age restrictions and so forth. If the person you wish to employ is of the same nationality, special dispensation is also required. In addition, under current legislation, maids and domestic staff may only come from the following countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines or Sri Lanka. This means that it is illegal to take on an au pair from Europe and you would have to either hire someone from an agency on an hourly or weekly basis, or sponsor a maid yourself, who is able to take on childcare duties.
I am American, but worked in the UK from July 2008 to October 2010. My employer contributed on a monthly basis to a pension scheme run by Scottish Widows, the insurance company. I chose to "contract out" of the government's State Second Pension because it was unlikely I would be in the UK at retirement age. This was recommended by the Scottish Widows representative when my account was set up. Each working year, I noted on my annual statement that I was receiving a lump sum from the UK government, which I understood to be the contracted-out payment. What concerns me is that I just received my 2011 pension statement as well as another of these lump-sum payments (even though I did not work or reside in the UK in 2011). This doesn't seem right. I have learnt that the contract-out programme has been discontinued. Therefore, I assume I will not receive any more of these payments in the future. However, do I need to worry about owing the UK government money that it should not have given me? I would also like to consolidate my finances and transfer my pension fund out of the UK and to the US. Is it possible to transfer a UK pension fund into a US Individual Retirement Arrangement or equivalent and, therefore, avoid any tax penalties in the UK or income-tax obligations in the US? - JP Abu Dhabi
If you are contracted out of the State Second Pension (an option to have part of your National Insurance contributions redirected to a personal pension), then the start date is usually the start of the tax year, when you put in the application. Even if you did not apply until, say, January, your start date will be April 6 in the previous year. This means the redirected payment is made in arrears, so it is entirely possible that a payment received for the 2010-2011 tax year relates to 2009-2010. Payments relate to PAYE (Pay As You Earn) earnings, which are taxed at source, so cannot be made in error. You need not be concerned about any overpayment and no further payments should be made. The scheme has not been discontinued, but is perhaps not as valuable as it once was. Unlike the European Union, the US doesn't recognise pensions from other countries in terms of being able to transfer them to a US pension. Taking income from a UK pension and paying UK taxes on it can be taken as a credit on your US taxes, but you cannot draw on a UK pension until age 55. Alternatively, and depending on where you are living at the time, you could ask the UK pension provider to pay it gross of tax and then pay tax on the US side.
I am British and have recently divorced. I would like to know if my will is still valid. I am planning to remarry next year, but am concerned that my ex-wife would receive my assets if I should die. We didn't have any children, but I have a few assets. - TL Dubai
If your marriage is ended by a court order, like a divorce or annulment, your will does not become void or invalid. What happens is that any gift to your former spouse takes effect as if she had died on the date your decree became absolute (the date the divorce is finalised). This usually means that the gift falls back into residue for the residual beneficiaries. If you had left everything to her, then the effect is as if you had died intestate, that is, without a will. Similarly, if you had appointed your ex-wife as an executor or trustee, the will still takes effect as if she had died on the day the divorce became final. It is best to make a new will immediately after a divorce, but you should be aware that under English law, a will is invalidated by marriage. However, this is not necessarily the case under Scottish law.