x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

On Your Side: Cheap DIY wills are not worth the legal headaches

Our consumer advocate takes readers' questions about the perils of DIY wills, LivingSocial vouchers as the company ends its operations in the Middle East, whether UK expats living in Dubai would be charged an international student rate, a rescinded offer of employment and unfreezing a bank account while between jobs.

It is believed that some 90 per cent of litigation relating to wills is over home-made wills. istockphoto.com
It is believed that some 90 per cent of litigation relating to wills is over home-made wills. istockphoto.com

On a recent visit home to the United Kingdom, I filled out one of those do-it-yourself (DIY) wills that you can obtain from stores such as WH Smith. It cost £10 (Dh58.25) and saved me the £400 bill I would have incurred had I gone to my solicitor for the job. All well and good, but are these DIY wills legal? I have heard as long as a will is signed, dated and witnessed, with executors named and nominated, it is legal. AM Abu Dhabi

A home-made will is a legal document, provided it is signed and properly witnessed. But if professional advice has not been given, it is impossible to know if the provisions are really what the individual wants and it is very easy to get it wrong. Lack of knowledge of inheritance laws and some incorrect wording can lead to complications and assets not being distributed as wanted. Too many overlook the wise use of allowances, known as the nil-rate band in the UK, and it should be noted that most of the DIY will packs on sale relate to the law of England and Wales and may not be valid in Scotland. It is believed that some 90 per cent of litigation relating to wills is over home-made wills. When you consider the cost of a professionally written will compared with the value of an estate, there is no substitute for obtaining advice from an experienced lawyer.

 

I have a number of vouchers that I bought from LivingSocial, a group-buying site, but I have heard it is no longer trading in the UAE. Are my vouchers still valid or have I lost out? EA Abu Dhabi

As of August 24, LivingSocial suspended its Middle East operations and will not be offering further deals in the region. The company has confirmed that all unused vouchers are still valid and will be honoured by merchants until the date of expiration on the voucher. I suggest you keep a copy of the vouchers and if you have any problems redeeming them, you can contact LivingSocial by email at me.help@livingsocial.com.

 

I am a British citizen and have been living in Dubai for eight years. My daughter is now 17 years old and plans to go to university, but we would like her to go the UK to study because she can stay with family. I paid tax in the UK for more than 20 years and own a house there, so I would like to know if she will be eligible for fees as a UK student or if we have to pay international fees, despite being British. We have been told conflicting stories and need to plan ahead. TH Dubai

As you and your family have been permanently residing outside of the UK for so many years and are engaged in employment here, your daughter will be deemed an international student. Her studies would be charged at the higher rate applicable to the relevant university.

 

After passing three interviews, a medical assessment and security clearance successfully, I was offered a job with a semi-government company. I was told that once a labour permit was obtained, I would be contacted to cancel my current residency visa, which is under my father's sponsorship, to proceed with a visa sponsored by the company. Two weeks after I cancelled my visa, the company emailed me to say management had refused to proceed with my application based on my education qualification (high school diploma). The position, an administrative role, does not require higher qualifications. I am interested in pursuing the matter legally as I believe it is unjust. TM Dubai

This is an unfortunate situation and seems rather strange given the lengthy interview process and disclosure of qualifications. But I do not believe that you have any legal recourse against the company in question. A contract of employment was not signed and an offer of employment is not legally binding. There is no law pertaining to this situation and no mention of it is made in the UAE Labour Law.

 

I have a loan with a local bank, which has about Dh45,000 outstanding. I have never missed a payment, but I have been made redundant and my final salary payment has been paid into my account. Not only has the account been frozen, which I was expecting, but the bank has demanded that I repay the loan in full immediately. I have now been offered a new job and start next week. How can the bank demand this money in these circumstances? It seems unfair. FSD, Dubai

The reader did not get back to me to let me know which bank it was, so I could not intervene. But in such circumstances, banks will be amenable if someone has a good track record and can show proof of a new offer of employment, which it may want to verify. Earlier this year, the UAE Central Bank issued new guidelines that gave banks the authority to claim the full and immediate repayment of all loans in specific circumstances, which included redundancy.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com or onyourside@thenational.ae