Online form can help British expats estimate pensions

Plus questions about transferring property in the Emirates, employing a relative as a live-in maid and sponsoring a child after her 18th birthday, answered by The National's consumer advocate.

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I have been away from the United Kingdom for many years, but have been paying voluntary National Insurance contributions because I was told this would mean I could collect a UK state pension when I retired. I have been paying into the system since I was 20 and am now 55, so do I have to keep paying? How do I find out what I am entitled to from the UK government? - WM, Sharjah

General UK government guidance states that an individual needs to make 30 years of National Insurance contributions to qualify for a full state pension and this includes years of voluntary contributions while living as a non-resident for tax purposes. You will be eligible to claim a state pension from the age of 65. The best thing to do is to apply for a state pension forecast using the UK government form BR19. For this, you need to be more than 30 days away from retirement, have your National Insurance number, details of marriages - current and dissolved - and dates of overseas employment. The form can be obtained from and sent to the offices of the Pension Service, whose address is on the form. You should receive a response within a few weeks. The forecast provides an indication of basic and additional pension entitlement using today's prices, based on National Insurance contributions paid to date and expected in the future. If you are underfunded, you will be advised how much extra you are able to contribute to top up your entitlement, should you wish to do so. There is even an international case-worker team to assist with enquiries from non-residents.

I have lived and worked in the UAE for 15 years. I am extremely lucky to have had a close relationship during this time with a prominent Emirati family and several other senior figures. As a result, I have been allowed to buy my own land and design and build my own house. Both land and house had to be registered in the Emirati family's name. I have also been given a visa for life, so I can stay here as long as I wish. How can I legally make sure that when I die, the proceeds from the sale of both the land and the house go to my brother's children in Europe? How can I make sure that both, which are registered in the Emirati family's eldest son's name, do not get transferred to his children/wife if he should die before me, which could cause problems? AH, Abu Dhabi

Although you have been permitted to buy the land and property in principle, you are not the legal owner. Under UAE law, you can't be because expats can only own land and/or property in specific areas. The same applies to your nieces and nephews. I strongly recommend that you seek legal advice because I can't see any way that you can absolutely ensure that anything happens to the property at the present time. It may be possible to draw up a legal agreement or promissory note confirming your right to live in the property in perpetuity and possibly even for this right to be passed on to members of your family after your death, but that is the only real legal option as the law currently stands. Of course, the Government could change the law, but it is one thing to provide a visa for life and quite another to overturn a federal law regarding property ownership by non-GCC nationals.

I would like to bring my sister-in-law over from Malta to work for my family as a nanny for a few years, but I have not found any information on how to go about this. The nannies I have been offered from agencies here are not properly qualified in this area, but my sister-in-law is. Can you provide me with some details or point me in the right direction? I have been drawing a blank with my enquiries. LM, Dubai

There are specific rules that apply if a person wishes to sponsor a maid or domestic servant, including the headings that the position of a nanny would come under. These relate to minimum salary, the sponsor not being a bachelor, age restrictions and so forth. But it is not possible for you to employ and sponsor your sister-in-law for this role because you cannot sponsor a maid to whom you are related. Even if they are of the same nationality, special dispensation is required. In addition, under current legislation, maids and domestic staff may only come from the following countries: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines or Sri Lanka.

My family and I are due to move to Abu Dhabi shortly. Our daughter will soon have her 16th birthday, but plans to continue studying for another two years. I have been advised that it is apparently fine for her to stay with us after she has turned 18, but can you clarify what happens with her visa and medical coverage through my husband's job? Will the benefits stop automatically once she reaches 18? KH, New Zealand

Under UAE law, an unmarried daughter may be sponsored by her father for an indefinite period, so no changes will need to be made following her 18th birthday. When her visa is due for renewal after two years, you just request a standard renewal. Because your husband will be working for a company that is based in Abu Dhabi, as opposed to any other emirate, by law his employer must provide Health Authority-Abu Dhabi compliant medical insurance cover for the employee, his wife and up to three children up to the age of 18 years. There is, therefore, no legal requirement for the employer to continue to provide cover for her once she reaches 18, but the easiest and cheapest option would be for her to stay on the company cover (provided the scheme terms and employer allow for this) and for you to pay the premium. This will be significantly cheaper than setting up an individual policy.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write to her at with queries for On Your Side or for advice on any other financial planning matter.