Wills in Dubai & Will Writing Services for Dubai, UAE
3 Simple Steps
Choose the type of Will and fill out our simple form in about 10 minutes.
You will receive the Will(s) drafted by our lawyers by email.
We will finalise your Will(s) and guide you on signing and registration.
To complete your Wills in Dubai, UAE, our simple form requires you to answer a few questions such as:
- Names of your family
- Who will get your property
- Who will act as guardian for your children
Filling in our form is completely free. You will only be required to make payment upon completing the form if you wish to go ahead with preparing the Wills in Dubai.
UAE courts adhere to Sharia Law in respect of the distribution of assets of a non-muslim UAE expat where he or she dies without a Will in place. The UAE law allows the non-Muslims to choose the laws of their home country to apply to their inheritance. This can be done through a clearly drafted Will.
So, having a Will is mandatory in the UAE.
These Wills are signed before the Notary Public (Courts) in the respective Emirates. This option is suitable for individuals having assets in:
Ras Al Khaimah
Only for individuals with assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah
DIFC Wills Service Centre (formerly known as DIFC Wills & Probate Registry) has been set up specifically to cater for the requirements of non-Muslims owning assets in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.
Benefits of registering a Will with DIFC
1. The registration will give you assurance on the distribution of movable and immovable assets as per your wishes
2. Legal regime is clear and unambiguous
3. Probate process is simpler, quicker and cheaper than other court processes in the UAE
1. You must be a non-Muslim and over 21 years
2. Your assets must be situated in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah
Service is available for both residents and non-residents
Read our Article on 5 reasons for registering a Will with DIFC Wills Service Centre
Top 10 Tips For Your Perfect Wills in Dubai
If you are reading this writing, you are likely to be a non-Muslim either living as an expat or otherwise having some assets in Dubai or in another Emirate in the UAE. It is likely that you have heard about of the application of Sharia law to the distribution of your estate after death. You are also likely to have received advice from friends and fellow colleagues asking you to make and register your Will in the UAE to avoid the application of Sharia law to the distribution of your estate.
You are now taking practical steps to protect your family and estate with a Will either in Dubai or in another Emirate. To make things easier for you, here the top ten (10) tips on how to write Wills in Dubai and across the UAE.
1. Choose who writes your Will wisely
You may be glad to know that a Will can be written by anyone and you can write your own Will. However, given that this is perhaps the most important document that you will ever sign during your life, it may be too big a risk to write your own Will and eventually your family finding out after your death that the Will written by you was not enforceable. Will writing is a technical area of law and professional legal assistance should be sought to ensure that the document is correctly written in compliance with the applicable laws in the UAE. To ensure this, you should choose a professional law firm (such as Legal Inz) who is duly registered with the DIFC Wills Service Centre in Dubai to write Wills for non-Muslims.
2. Choose your beneficiaries
A beneficiary is a person who is entitled to receive your estate after your death. Choice of a beneficiary is perhaps the first thought that may have crossed your mind when thinking about making a Will in the UAE. You should declare the beneficiaries of your estate in your Will in clear terms. You can practically choose anyone as your beneficiary. For example, we have seen that married couples in Dubai and across the UAE give 100% of their estate to each other. If both of them pass away together, the couples typically nominate their children as the alternate beneficiaries with distribution of estate in equal shares. No matter who you choose as your beneficiary, the names of your beneficiaries and distribution mechanism should be spelt out in clear and unambiguous terms in your Will.
3. Appoint your executors
An executor is a person who will have your Will executed in line with your instructions after your death. Given the nature of this role, a person who is being appointed as an executor should be someone who is either a close family member or a close friend. It is always better that you appoint someone who is willing to play this role, is present in the UAE and has some knowledge of how things work in the UAE. In practice, we have seen that married couples appoint each other as executors in their respective Wills. You should consider appointing at least one (1) or two (2) alternate executors to cover an unlikely event of you and your spouse passing away together.
4. Appoint guardians for your minor children
A guardian is someone who will be responsible for the upbringing and care of your minor children below the age of 21 years after your death. In the absence of a Will, the mother only keeps custody of minor children whilst the court may appoint a male member of husband’s side of the family as the legal guardian. The custody and legal guardianship are two (2) different concepts in the UAE. The custodian of the minor children only keeps the custody and the legal guardian has the power of make legal and financial decisions about the minor children. If two (2) different people play these two (2) roles, there could be potential conflicts. To avoid this, the mother should be appointed as the legal guardian of minor children through a Will. You should also appoint at least one (1) or two (2) alternate guardians to cover a situation where both parents pass away together.
5. Alternate guardians for female children
If you have any female child and you intend to appoint a sole male alternate guardian for her, you may only choose your or your spouse’s brother or father for this role. If you wish to appoint a male guardian (for your female child) from amongst any other relatives or friends, the appointment should only be made in a way that such male and his wife should act as joint guardians. You may, however, appoint any male as a sole alternate guardian for your male children.
6. Appoint interim guardians for your children
You should consider appointing interim guardians for your children to cover a situation where you and your spouse pass away together. The role of an interim guardian (also sometimes referred to as temporary guardian) is to act as the guardian of minor children on an interim basis in a situation if the appointed alternate guardians live outside the UAE. The appointment lasts until the time the alternate guardian arrives in the UAE to take custody of the children. Interim guardians should be couples from amongst close relatives or family friends in the UAE.
7. Make specific legacies, if required
If you wish to give any specific items (such as specific real estate property, watch, ring etc.) to anyone, you can nominate the beneficiary of such item(s) in the Will by clearly outlining the details of the item to be given as a legacy. If you wish to give any amounts of cash to someone, you should outline the amount of cash along with the details of the beneficiary. You should note that these specific legacies will be distributed to your beneficiaries and the remainder of your estate will be treated as the 100% of the estate that you may have opted to give to your spouse or any other beneficiaries.
8. Give funeral instructions
You may want to specify your funeral instructions with the method and place of your funeral. In practice, we have seen that expats living in the UAE give instructions to take their bodies back home. However, this is something you may decide and specify in your Will based on your own requirements/faith.
9. Sign and register your Will
You must sign and register your Wills in Dubai (or in another Emirate in the UAE) as per the applicable registration requirements. Unlike most other countries, a Will printed and signed at home in the presence of two (2) witnesses is not accepted by the UAE courts. We will advise you of the relevant place of registration of your Will based on your circumstances.
10. Have it stored safely
Once you have correctly signed and registered your Will, you should store it in a proper safe and advise your beneficiaries, executors and guardians of this. This is to ensure that they can get access to your Will upon your death and initiate the execution process. You may also want to share copies of your Will with your beneficiaries, executors and guardians. Your Will may not be of any good if it cannot be found by anyone after your death.
The above tips are based on the most common issues seen by us in Wills written in Dubai and across the UAE.
4 Key Benefits of Registering Wills in Dubai
Wills in Dubai allow non-Muslims to declare their beneficiaries, appoint guardians for children below 21 years of age and appoint executors for the execution of Will upon death. The Will registration also makes the process of probate simpler. Each of these benefits are outlined below in detail:
1. Declare your beneficiaries
If you are a non-Muslim either having assets or residing in Dubai, you have the following two (2) options in respect of the distribution of your estate upon your death:
Option 1 – Do not register a Will in Dubai
You can leave your estate behind without the registration of your Will in Dubai. If you choose this option, your estate will be distributed amongst your legal heirs in accordance with the Sharia Law. The probate process for the distribution of your estate would require the court to first establish the list of your legal heirs as per the Sharia Law. Once this is done, the court would issue the probate order outlining the share of each legal heir in view of the principles of Sharia. Typically, a wife gets 1/8 of the estate of a deceased husband. Other legal heirs usually include children, parents and possibly siblings and grand-children.
Option 2 – Register a Will in Dubai
The law allows non-Muslims to register their Wills in Dubai and choose their specific beneficiaries. The registered Wills confirm the non-application of Sharia Law to the estate of non-Muslims. Following this route, a Will would confirm the names and shares of each of the beneficiaries. The process of determining the legal heirs under Sharia Law does not apply in this case. Technically, you can choose anyone as your beneficiary who may inherit 100% of your estate. If you choose more than one (1) persons as your beneficiaries, you can assign the relevant percentage of shares of your estate to each of the beneficiaries. Alternate beneficiaries should be appointed to cover situations where the primary beneficiaries do not survive.
Typically, all married expat couples in the UAE choose each other as beneficiaries of 100% of each other’s estate and, if both spouses pass away together, children are chosen to be the alternate beneficiaries with the estate divided between them equally.
2. Appoint guardians for your minor children
In the absence of a duly registered Will in Dubai, the guardianship of your children below the age of 21 years may be determined by the court in view of the Sharia Law. The process may include the determination of the best candidate to play the role of a legal guardian even when the mother of the minor children is alive. To avoid this situation, it may be best for you to register your Will and declare your wife as the guardian of your minor children and appoint alternate guardians to cover a situation where you and your wife pass away together. The Will can also cover the appointment of temporary guardians where the alternate permanent guardians reside outside the UAE. Any guardian appointed in the Will must be over the age of 21 years.
3. Appoint your executors
An executor is a person who takes the Will to the relevant court and have it implemented. In the absence of a Will, it remains unclear as to who would pursue the probate proceedings at the relevant court. If you wish to register your Will, you may want to appoint your primary beneficiary (such as your spouse) as the executor of your Will. This would ensure that the beneficiary is in charge of the probate proceedings. An executor can also be someone who is not a primary beneficiary or is not a beneficiary in the Will. An executor is also required to be over the age of 21 years for the appointment to be valid in a Will.
4. Make the probate process easy for your family
As a Will provides clear instructions on the distribution of estate as well as the appointment of guardians and executors, the process of probate becomes simple. In the absence of a Will, the court needs to first establish the legal heirs which in itself could take longer time and prove logistically challenging for everyone. This part of the process is avoided through the Will which enables the court to simply issue the probate order based on the Will.
Given the benefits, registration of Wills in Dubai by non-Muslims is critical to any estate planning exercise and should be given due consideration by those non-Muslims either having assets or living in Dubai.
6 Highly Risky Mistakes You Must Avoid in Your Wills in UAE
If a non-Muslim in Dubai (or in any other Emirate) passes away without having a duly registered Will in place, Sharia law is applied as a default position for the distribution of his/her estate and appointment of guardians for the minor children. Having legally valid Wills in Dubai (or other Emirate in the UAE) in place is thus mandatory for any non-Muslims looking to avoid the application of Sharia law.
A Will is a legal document and should be written correctly in compliance with the applicable laws at the same time reflecting your true intentions. There are a number of legal issues to navigate through when writing Wills in Dubai and across the UAE. With these legal issues comes a risk of things going wrong. This could be especially true if you do not fully understand the legal implications of Will writing and attempt to write your Will without any professional legal advice.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that can be avoided in any Wills that are prepared for registration in Dubai and across the UAE.
1. Use of unclear and ambiguous language
The first and most critical mistake in a Will could be the use of unclear or ambiguous language. If your Will is written in a language that cannot be understood due to lack of clarity, this could lead the court in either rejecting your Will after your death or applying its own interpretation of the unclear language. Either way, you may end up spending time and money for the registration of your Will in the UAE which is either not eventually enforceable or potentially enforced in a manner that is not in line with your intentions. After all, you will not be alive at the time to provide any clarity to the court. So, the language in a Will should be clear and unambiguous. Ideally, Wills in Dubai should be drafted by a Wills draftsman who is duly registered with the DIFC Wills Service Centre.
2. Not opting out of the application of Sharia law
If you have not opted out of the application of Sharia law in your Will, the Will may be deemed unclear in respect of your instructions. If you are a non-Muslim, the UAE law gives you the right to opt out of the application of Sharia law to the distribution of your estate. This is perhaps the main reason you are writing and registering your Will in the UAE. You should, therefore, provide clear language to the effect that you do not wish the application of Sharia law to your estate and guardianship of minor children.
3. Not choosing your executors wisely
The appointment of right executors is critical to ensure that the process of probate is carried out smoothly after your death. You should, therefore, choose your executors after careful consideration. Ideally, if you are married, you should appoint your spouse as the primary executor and then choose at least two (2) alternate executors to ensure that your Will is probated by your trusted friends/family after your death. You should consider appointing alternate executors who are residents in Dubai (or in another Emirate in the UAE) to ensure that they do not have to travel from a distance to attend the probate process.
4. Not choosing the guardians wisely
The appointment of guardians for minor children is perhaps the most important and delicate issue in any Will for expats in the UAE. You should consider this appointment with utmost care keeping in view the persons around you who are eligible to play this role. The spouses should appoint each other as the primary guardians. You should consider appointing at least two (2) alternate permanent guardians who will take care of your children if you and your spouse pass away together. You should appoint interim guardians for your children if your chosen permanent guardians are resident outside the UAE. The interim guardians will take care of your children until the permanent guardians arrive in the UAE to take custody of the children.
5. Making a single will instead of mirror wills
The most common confusion happens to be on the issue of joint bank accounts and real estate property ownership in the UAE. A number of expats in the UAE are not aware that, in the case of joint bank accounts or real estate property ownership, there is not rule of right of survivorship in the UAE. There is no automatic transfer of ownership of the joint bank accounts or the jointly owned real estate property if one spouse passes away. A number of male individuals only consider making a single Will based on the incorrect assumption that, if the wife passes away, the husband will automatically inherit his wife’s share in the joint bank account and the jointly owned real estate property. If someone has made this mistake, it essentially means that the Sharia law will apply to the share of the deceased spouse’s share in the joint bank account and the jointly owned real estate property. To avoid this situation, the spouses with joint ownerships should always register mirror wills instead of a single will in the UAE.
6. Not registering your Will
A Will written in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE without appropriate registration will not be accepted by the courts. We will advise you on the appropriate registration process keeping in view your specific circumstances.
3 Smart Actions You Should Take in Parallel of Writing Your Wills in UAE
If you have already decided to proceed with writing and registering your Wills in Dubai (or in another Emirate in the UAE), you should note that the transfer of your estate to your beneficiary will not happen automatically after your death. The executor appointed by you would need to initiate the probate process by filing the application at the relevant court in the UAE. The distribution of estate can only take place once a probate order has been issued based on the Will. The process of probate is likely to be fairly quick in the presence of a duly registered Will. However, you should consider taking the following steps in parallel to your will writing exercise to ensure that your family can continue their day-to-day affairs between the time of your passing away and issuance of the probate order by the court.
1. Open offshore bank account
You should set up a joint offshore bank account in one of the offshore jurisdictions with an international bank. Given the applicability of the rule or survivorship in offshore jurisdictions, your spouse will own the bank account outright and will continue to operate it after your death. This bank account should have sufficient funds to allow for your spouse to withdraw at any time to continue supporting the family as normal as possible.
2. Obtain life insurance policy
You should obtain a life insurance policy from a renowned insurance provider with sufficient coverage to allow for your family to continue their day-to-day affairs without compromising their lifestyle. You can nominate your beneficiaries in the life insurance policy. Life insurance is one exception where the Sharia law is not applied and the proceeds of life insurance after the death of the insured are distributed without the requirement of a Will or completion of the probate process.
3. Avoid joint bank accounts in the UAE
You should avoid having any joint bank accounts in the UAE simply because these bank accounts are frozen after the death of one of the spouses – resulting in the surviving spouse having to wait for the probate process to be completed after death to have access to the funds. This could have the amounts in the bank account locked when they are needed the most. Ideally, each of the spouses should have their separate bank accounts with sufficient funds to last for a few months in the event of the other spouse passing away. If you wish to continue to operate any joint bank accounts, you may do so by reducing the amounts in such account and, in parallel, opening your individual bank accounts in the UAE.
The above suggestions are provided on the basis of practical needs of expats who are living in the UAE with their families. These families can manage the stress of going through the loss of their dear ones by taking the above steps as part of their estate planning and will writing exercise in Dubai and across the UAE.
I wish to thank all of you who assisted me at Legal Inz for your absolute efficiency and professionalism from start to finish. You made the process of writing our wills absolutely painless.Why Legal Inz: Simple and explanatory website.Annabelle P.
- What is a Will?
- Why do I need a Will in UAE?
- What is a Notary Public Will?
- What is a DIFC Will?
- What is an Legal Inz’s online Will form?
- What is a Single Will?
- What are Mirror Wills?
Why Choose Legal Inz for professional will writing services in Dubai?
- Our lawyers have world-class experience in estate planning matters in the UAE and other international jurisdictions.
- Our state-of-the-art portal saves your precious time and allows you to initiate and finalise your Will without leaving your home/office in UAE.
- Our will writing services for Dubai and rest of the UAE include changes to your draft Will within 6 months after signing. This will give you necessary peace of mind on drafting fee if your situation changes after signing your Will.
- We prepare the draft Will within three (3) working days after you have filled in our online form.
- We provide lifetime support to all our clients availing our will writing services.
Helping you choose between Single and Mirror Wills
A single Will is suitable for an individual and is typically prepared for someone who is not married. A married individual may also request a single Will where his/her spouse does not have any assets in the UAE (such as bank account or other property) at all.
In a single Will, you can make specific gifts of money or property or leave the entire property to any person you like. A single Will allows you to appoint guardians for children, leave gifts to specific people and also to express any other wishes.
Mirror Wills are basically 2 individual single Wills and are appropriate for married couples either having assets in individual or joint names. You save money by requesting the Mirror Wills rather than as two single Wills.
In Mirror Wills, each spouse can make specific gifts of money or property or leave each of their entire property to any person they like. Mirror Wills cover distribution of property, guardianship, appointment of executors and provisions for specific gifts.
We Come to You
Many of our expat clients are working couples and do not find spare time during the week days for various important personal issues. These clients have shown great interest in putting in place their Wills in the UAE. Given the demand, we have launched exclusive service to help our clients write their Wills in Dubai. Our specialist lawyers are now happy to meet you at your preferred location on Saturdays. The lawyers are glad to answer any queries you have in relation to the UAE in the UAE and take instructions for preparing your Will on the spot.
What if I do not have a UAE Will?
UAE courts adhere to Sharia law in respect of the distribution of assets of a non-muslim UAE expat where he or she dies without a Will in place.
The UAE law allows the non-Muslims to choose the laws of his or her home country to apply to their inheritance. This can be done through a clearly drafted Will. So, having a Will is mandatory in the UAE. Non-Muslim UAE expats or individuals otherwise having assets in the UAE must either register their Wills with the Notary Public or the DIFC Wills Service Centre. Click here to to find out which of the two (2) options you should choose.
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