I have three unsecured loans with two different banks in the UAE for fairly large amounts of money, and am interested to know if my parents in Spain would be personally liable for paying them back if I died. I am working hard to pay them off, but this is concerning me.†FB, Abu Dhabi
When someone dies, any debts they leave are paid out of their estate (the money and property that they own) before any money can be passed to their beneficiaries. Anyone else is only liable for their debts if the liabilities were in joint names or if they acted as a guarantor. Note that in the case of a husband and wife, the monies owed to creditors take priority in the distribution of assets, so they must be repaid before other assets are passed to beneficiaries, including the spouse. Please also note that you are trying to pay off the debts as interest payable over a long time and this can significantly increase the amount you end up paying in total.
I read your column a few weeks ago about the issue a reader had with Emirates NBD. It is identical to the issue I faced with them some time ago. I paid for a car loan with post-dated cheques, which all cleared. But when I went to get a clearance letter for the loan, the bank said I owed an additional Dh1,343, an amount that was neither the rate of my instalments nor a reasonable fee. When a loan is settled with post-dated cheques and they are cashed, there should be no question as to whether the loan is paid or not. Sadly, I paid the amount they insisted I owed because I couldn't re-register my car without doing so. I spent from November 2008 to March 2009 going back and forth until it got to the point that I had to register my car or start to pay the police a fine of Dh100 a day. I decided to pay the fixed cost rather than take the risk of incurring a new daily cost from the police. Probably a mistake since the likelihood of getting any money back from Emirates NBD is slim, but what is a better option in that case? Despite the time elapsed, I would like to get to the bottom of this. KE, Dubai
While this problem is quite an old one, KE was not dealt with properly by the bank. Following my intervention, KE was contacted by the bank and, after omitting it from their initial correspondence, they sent her the loan-repayment schedule, which shows that the payment dates matched her cheque stubs. The bank was unable to explain why it accepted one cheque too few, returned her blank guarantee cheque and issued a clearance letter when a sum of money was owed. Neither has it explained why it took two years, numerous personal and electronic complaints and finally intervention by this newspaper to explain exactly what had happened. Emirates NBD's letter to KE stated: "At the time of changing the repayment option from direct debit to post-dated cheques, you had submitted 22 post-dated cheques whereas there were 23 instalments outstanding." This is an error on the bank's part that really should not have occurred. KE was sent a box of chocolates and Dh250 in shopping vouchers, but she really would have preferred proper service in the first place. The bank said: "Emirates NBD treats customers as individuals with their relevant expectations and restrictions. As such, we review each and every case related to us with utmost care and consideration and try to resolve any complaints in the best interest of all parties involved. Occasionally, the resolution does not meet the expectations and requirements of an individual customer."
I am leaving Dubai in a couple of months and want to sell most of my furniture and other items before I go. Rather than have the hassle of selling things piece by piece, I would like to do a couple of garage sales to sell items en masse. I do not want to do anything illegal, so do you know if I need a licence or permit to do this? AH, Dubai
It has taken me a while to obtain an answer to this query. I initially contacted Dubai Municipality and was asked to put my query in writing because it now only responded to e-mailed enquiries. Three e-mails later they still hadn't replied, so I called them, but they were unable to explain why they had instigated a non-call service but ignore e-mails. I finally managed to speak to a member of the staff who directed me to the Dubai Economic Department, which is responsible for the licensing of any business or trade activity. They have confirmed that provided the sale is not a regular event and is not run as a business, there is no problem in hosting a garage sale and no permit is required.
Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at email@example.com