How To Protect Your Family In The UAE
This post provides you with a framework to protect your family from financial hardship in the UAE. There are 5 main elements to family protection, in no particular order, they are:
- Providing capital in the event of the death or serious illness
- Providing income in the event of the death or a serious illness which prevents you from working
- Meeting the medical expenses of your family members
- Providing for unexpected expenses
- Ensuring your wishes for your assets and children are complied with if you die or lose capacity
Lump sums (capital) repay debts on your death or serious illness. This capital could come from bank deposits or investments. Where this is insufficient I recommend a life assurance and/or critical illness policy.
Further information about these insurance policies can be found by following these links: life assurance , critical illness. These policies effectively replace the income which the breadwinner would have earned and used to repay the debt.
Having repaid all debts, the need for income will have reduced. However, there will still need to be some income to protect your family’s standard of living.
Where investments exist after debt repayment, they could be adapted to generate income. Where there are no investments or insufficient assets, there are life insurance plans designed for this purpose.
One of the requirements to live or work in Dubai or Abu Dhabi is health insurance. The mandatory plans are very basic. Where there is no State medical care bankruptcies often occur due to unexpected medical costs.
No medical insurance plan covers everything. However, there is a wide choice of companies in the UAE. For more information, see this post.
Having an emergency fund is important. But it is often overlooked.
This is to cope with those unexpected financial shocks. The standard advice is to have 3-6 months expenses in a bank account. Married couples should have their emergency fund in a joint account. This should be in an offshore jurisdiction which recognises survivorship rules (e.g. the Channel Islands or Isle of Man).
The actual amount you have set aside will depend on the volatility of your income and job security. If you are self-employed or working on a project basis you may want more than this. If you have other assets you can draw on and have better job security, you may be ok with 3 months.
Guardianship, Wills and Powers of Attorney
Having a legally valid guardianship document whilst living in the UAE with young children is essential kit for expat parents. This document lets you choose who cares for your children in the event of your death.
A Will is also an essential document for all expats. This is because without one local (shariah based) law is applied to their assets within the UAE. UK Government-funded money advice website The Money Advice Service recommends those with assets overseas receive professional guidance when writing a will. See our sister site Great British Wills for more information.
Powers of Attorney give another person the right to act on your behalf within the limits of the powers you grant to them. This can be useful for expats who travel frequently. They also protect your family in the event of one of the parents losing mental capacity.
Protecting our loved ones is a primary instinct. Expat life is fun and exciting. Expats are more independent than others. But there is no safety net waiting to catch you if things go wrong. As expats we need to do more than our friends and family back home.