Saturday, November 6, 2010

My Letters - GULF NEWS - The cost of dying: What to expect when it's not expected

The cost of dying: What to expect when it's not expected

Death comes to us all — but careful planning can take the pain out of dying for your family and friends
By Deena Kamel Yousef, Staff Reporter
Published: 00:00 November 6, 2010
Reader comments (2)

Dying in Dubai is expensive: families must start saving money and preparing for the death of a loved one to avoid financial and legal problems after the event.
Image Credit: Supplied

We are confronted with images of death and dying on television everyday, yet it is an uncomfortable topic that many families are unwilling to talk or think about. Often a cultural taboo, discussing the death of a family member and how to deal with the body and the estate is considered offensive to the elders.

PDF: Grave charges

Every day four people die in Dubai and every three out of those four will be expatriates, according to statistics.

It's a sobering fact that does not usually occur to Dubai's young population, here to pursue a better living standard and higher income.

Why open a can of worms, you say?

Consider the facts: The costs that a family must bear if a relative dies on the other side of the world from home can run into thousands of dirhams. Families are usually unprepared for the bureaucracy and red tape of getting the paperwork, organising the embalming, or sending the body home—all in the middle of grieving for a loved one.

The person's accounts are frozen and visa is cancelled—leaving the dependants without enough money for survival and forced to leave the country. Life insurance may not be paid out immediately and the court may take months, if not years, to distribute the person's estate. Those that do not set aside a lump sum of money behind for the family leave behind a knot of financial problems for their family to sort.

Dying in Dubai is expensive: families must start saving money and preparing for the death of a loved one to avoid financial and legal problems after the event.

The Valley of Love, a non-government organization, last year reported 100 cases of families facing financial problems following the death of a relative.

Gulf News takes you through the paper trail and cost of death in Dubai, providing experts' advice on how to prepare for the event.

Additional specifics on Repatriation costs:

- Calculated by kilo of body and coffin weight. Varies by destination, airlines and total weight. Saving tip: repatriate the body in a cheaper and lighter coffin and transfer to a more elaborate one at home.

- Repatriation to India: Air India transports human remains to any Indian city for free. Other airlines will ship to India with a 50 per cent discount on IATA rates. Charge is approximately Dh20 per kilo. Total cargo cost is Dh1,500.

- Repatriation to Pakistan: Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) ships human remains and provides the accompanying person's ticket for free

- Repatriation to the UK, Dh65-Dh70 per kilo.

- Repatriation to Africa, Dh95-Dh100 per kilo. It is the most expensive destination.

- Repatriation to Egypt or Lebanon, Dh20-Dh30 per kilo

- Total cost to Europe, Dh20,000 (includes documentation, fees, repatriation).

- Total cost to the Middle East, Dh10,000

- Total cost to Africa, Dh25,000- Dh30,000

- Shipping surcharges: Security surcharge (Dh0.20 to 0.80 per kilo), Fuel surcharges (Dh1 to Dh3 per kilo, depending on fuel prices), screening charge (Dh0.11 per kilo)

- Help line: Call Emirates Sky Cargo services for further details on 04-2184218

Abhay Pathak, Regional Manager, Gulf, Middle East and Africa, Air India
Craig Holding, financial adviser and associate director of Acuma Wealth Management.
Helen Williams, Bereavement counsellor, Keith Nicholl Medical Centre, Dubai
Joseph Bobby, Vice President of the Valley of Love, a non-profit organization
Mohammed Marria, senior estate planner for Just Wills, a firm specializing in succession planning
Roy Gaunt, Chartered insurance broker, Nexus Insurance Brokers
Vivian Albertyn, Managing Partner of Middle East Funeral Services, Dubai

Have you experienced financial trouble after the death of a loved on? Have you taken steps to avoid similar issues in the future?

My Comments:

Two excellent and must read articles for expats in UAE. Could be be termed as "Thoughts before we die" in UAE. Personally, I have been with several friends in such situation and and know the enormous paper work money and procedures involved here and India to repatriate or cremate a deceased. Thanks for bringing up these for the benefit of every reader or resident in UAE. Death cannot be planned, but what the situation may be with regards to the close ones could some what be planned or detailed in advance with a bit of timely guidance and attention by such articles.

Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

To read it in original, please visit GULF NEWS Online.

Please also read:

How to save and prepare for death

Financial, legal and psychology experts provide their top tips on how to financially prepare and save money in case of a death in the family.
  • By Deena Kamel Yousef, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 13:25 November 6, 2010
Grave Charges
  • Dying in Dubai is expensive: families must start saving money and preparing for the death of a loved one to avoid financial and legal problems after the event.
  • Image Credit: Supplied
1. Open an offshore account. A person’s single and joint bank accounts will be automatically frozen upon death, leaving the family with no access to money. Having a bank account outside the jurisdiction of the UAE and home country means the family can withdraw money for survival and emergency expenses

2. Put some money in a bank account under a family member or loved one’s name.

3. Set aside emergency funds overseas.

PDF: Grave charges 
4. Have an honest and open discussion with your spouse or family about your finances.

5. Draw up a will detailing how to split your assets among inheritors. Will cost, Dh3,000; legal costs, Dh1,500-Dh2,000; execution of will in court, Dh45,000-Dh50,000.

6. Buy life insurance: Check the benefits, clauses and time period between the death and the payment. Choose between term insurance and whole of life insurance. You can opt for Islamic life insurance (Takaful) or term insurance which does not rely on investments and is Sharia compliant. Men, older people, and those with risky hobbies have higher premiums. Suicide within the first two years of buying a policy is not covered.

7. Get free advice. Some lawyers and funeral service providers give free advice on steps to take after the person’s death.

8. Approach local non-government organizations or your embassy for financial assistance.

9. Death is the ultimate abandonment. Bereavement counselling is available in Dubai for those unable to deal with loss of a loved one. A 90-minute session costs Dh450.

10. Check your work package if you have funeral and repatriation coverage. Check medical insurance for repatriation costs.

11. Save about 25 per cent of your salary, not just for your death but for your family’s life.

12. Before the deceased’s account is unfrozen, debts must be paid out first from those accounts. Pay your debts regularly to avoid from piling up.

13. Make a list of your assets, liabilities, insurance, stock or investments here and abroad, so the will executor knows where to locate the money.

14. Get off your partner’s visa and onto your employer’s sponsorship if you are working. The deceased’s visa gets cancelled and you will have to leave the country.

15. Don’t rely on your company for death and services benefits.

16. Nominate beneficiaries for your life insurance so they can receive the money.

17. Draft a will and email it to your relatives. Keep the original at home or with a lawyer for records.

18. Write how you would like your body dealt with after death.

19. Write a list of emergency contacts.

20. It is cheaper to be cremated in the UAE than repatriated. Budget airlines do not provide a repatriation service.

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