x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

On Your Side: Executors of wills have many responsibilities

Though often left to a company, a family member can be designated as an executor, plus the truth about bouncing cheques in the UAE and more of your financial questions answered.

I have been asked by my uncle to be an executor for a new will he is making. I do not have any legal knowledge and am concerned at what this role may entail. Can you give me any information about what I'd be agreeing to do after his death, so I can make a decision? I am British and my uncle lives in the UK. I expect to return there in the next few years. LC, Abu Dhabi

The role of the executor is to ensure that the terms of a will are carried out. A person writing a will can select up to four executors, although two is the standard number. This role is often taken on by a firm or company, such as a bank or solicitors, especially in the case of a more complicated will or larger estates. An executor is obliged to carry out a number of tasks, which are likely to include the following:

• Notify interested parties of the death;

• Obtain a copy of the medical certificate indicating the cause of death and register the death at the local Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, if a spouse or other close relative has not already done so (several certified copies will be required);

• Obtain the last original will of the deceased. Executors should have been informed where it is stored;

• Make copies of the will for the beneficiaries, banks, insurance companies and Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The original must not be tampered with in any way;

• Contact Probate Registry to obtain a Grant of Probate. This proves the validity of the will and allows for assets to be distributed;

• Pay any Inheritance Tax that is due (HMRC will usually advise of the amount due once the estate has been valued for probate purposes);

• In some cases, an executor will assist with funeral arrangements to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out as much as possible;

• Notify all businesses of the death, such as credit-card companies, utility companies, local authorities and tax office;

• Gather all documents relevant to the will and compile a list of assets, debt and any liabilities. All debts and liabilities should be paid and funeral expenses taken from the account;

• Distribute the remaining assets in accordance with the will.

The list is fairly long, but much of it is logical and straightforward in the UK and there is a great deal of help available to assist with the process. Indeed, it is a compliment to be asked to take on this responsibility.

 

I have heard of numerous stories of people being sent to jail for bouncing even a small cheque. I haven't been here very long and don't know anyone this has happened to. I'd like to know if this is an actual possibility, or just an urban myth put around to scare people. Would a simple mistake that was fixed straight away really result in someone being sent to prison? SR, Dubai

Not honouring a cheque is a criminal offence, according to the UAE Penal Code. But you are not automatically imprisoned and the consequences are dependent on the actions of the person who is owed monies. They have the right to file a police report against you and if you do not pay what is owed you can be arrested, fined and then jailed if the courts see fit. Cases are often dropped if the monies are paid in full before to the final court ruling.

 

I am a Canadian citizen, but have been living abroad for quite a few years. I am reviewing my savings and wonder if you can answer some questions for me about my Canadian Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). The amount in it is not huge, but it has been sitting there for a while. Am I able to make any additional contributions to this plan? If not, can I cash it in? PD, Dubai

Canadians abroad are only eligible to make RRSP contributions if they have not yet declared non-residency status. Monies in an RRSP can be withdrawn before retirement. As a resident, you pay withholding tax of 10 per cent, 20 per cent or 30 per cent, depending on the amount withdrawn. A 30 per cent tax is levied on amounts in excess of C$30,000 (Dh115,251). If you are a non-resident when funds are withdrawn, the tax charge is a flat 25 per cent under Part X111 of the Canadian Tax Authority rules.

 

A friend of mine worked in the UAE for a short time, but was made redundant with little notice. This left him with debts that he could not pay. He was unable to get another job, so had no income to pay these debts and no choice but to leave the country without having paid them off. He has now been offered another job in Dubai that he would like to accept, but is concerned that he could be arrested and jailed upon arrival because of the unpaid debts. The amounts are not massive (about Dh20,000 in total, I believe) and he is willing to pay them off once he is earning. Is there any way that he can find out if he is on some sort of wanted list, or can someone here do that for him? WH, Dubai

Someone who is not in the UAE may give written permission for another party to find out if they are on such a list. You will need their full name, date of birth and passport number. Go to a police station in Dubai and ask them to check their computer to see if the debts have been listed as a complaint or debt. The police will be able to tell you if that person has been "blacklisted" or if a complaint has been made against them that could cause problems when they arrive in the UAE.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at keren@holbornassets.com with queries for this column or for advice on any other financial planning matter.

onyourside@thenational.ae