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.
Example of distribution of assets in the UAE with the following family members:
Without a UAE Will
With a UAE Will
(Your chosen distribution)
Why do you still need a Will after amendments to the UAE laws?
Estate planning is of utmost importance for expatriates living in the UAE. Under the UAE law, if an expatriate passes away, the deceased person’s assets are frozen until a relevant court order is issued. The family will be required to follow the court procedures of Shariah Law and the specific percentage of shares will be transferred to the legal heirs identified by the court. A registered Will allows non-Muslim expatriates to choose their own beneficiaries and opt out of Shariah Law completely.
The Civil Transactions Law of the United Arab Emirates (i.e. the Federal Law No. 5 of 1985, issued on 15 December 1985 as amended by Federal Decree no. 30 of 2020), deals with the provisions of inheritance and Wills. Article 17 allows non-Muslims to choose the law of their choice under their Will. This can be achieved by registering a Will with the relevant government body.
Understanding the law
Position before the New Amendment in 2020
Wills and related actions are governed by the following two (2) federal laws in the UAE:
- Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status; and
- Federal Law No. 05 of 1985 concerning Civil Code.
Article 1.3 of the Personal Status law allows expatriates to choose the law of their home country for distribution of assets in the event of death. However, the said provision is subject to relevant Articles of the Civil Code. Article 17 of the Civil Code allowed the expats to apply the laws of their home country to their UAE assets by registering a Will.
New Amendment of Federal Decree no. 30 of 2020
The latest amendment of the Civil Transactions Law of the UAE (i.e. the Federal Decree no. 30 of 2020), has brought key changes to Article 17 of the Civil Code.
The most important change in the law has been made to the language of Article 17(3). With the amendments to the Civil Code, if there is no registered Will, the laws of the home country of the deceased shall be applicable to the moveable assets.
Real Estate as an exception
Real estate is an exception to the amendments to the Civil Code. The absence of a registered Will in the UAE would mean that the real estate owned by the deceased shall be distributed as per the provisions of Shariah.
So, why do you still need a Will in the UAE?
It is strongly recommended to have a duly registered Will in the UAE in order to secure your assets. Here are some of the reasons why:
Guardians for minor children
In case you have child(ren) below the age of 21 years, it is imperative that you appoint legal guardians for your minors through a registered Will. This allows you to provide security to your minor children. The wife is not the automatic legal guardian of minor children in case of the husband’s death.
Distribution of real estate
Real estate is an exception to the amendment regarding choice of home country law for distribution after death. Real Estate can only be distributed to a beneficiary of your choice if you have a registered Will specifying the beneficiaries.
Alternate beneficiaries under the Will
A Will allows you to appoint alternate beneficiaries to distribute your assets in case your immediate family predeceases you. You can ensure that your assets are distributed only to the people you mention under your Will.
Expeditious and easy process
A death in the family could be a traumatic experience for anyone. In the absence of a Will, the family is faced with further expenses and difficulties to claim ownership of the assets. Proving the provisions of the law of the home country could be time consuming and can attract expenses in connection with the possible legalisation/attestation of the relevant extracts of the home country law. A registered Will allows the courts to quickly proceed as per the wishes of the deceased person.
Peace of mind
A Will allows you to comprehensively convey your wishes with respect to your assets. Since the accounts as well as the properties are frozen upon death and cannot be operated without a court order, writing a Will would give you the peace of mind that there would be no challenges faced by your family members with respect to each person’s share.
It is imperative for expats living in a foreign land to embrace the legal protection and systems that ensure efficiency, especially in matters concerning personal and family welfare.
3 Most Common Patterns Followed in Wills in Dubai and across the UAE
The requirements for will writing for non-Muslims in Dubai and across the UAE may vary from one person to the other depending on one’s circumstances. There may be differences in approach towards the distribution of estate and issues related to the appointment of executors and guardians.
Despite the unique requirements of each individual, following are the three (3) most commonly followed patterns by testators (person writing the Will) in their UAE Wills:
1. Distribution of UAE estate
The mechanism for the distribution of estate for each individual may vary from one testator to the other depending upon their circumstances. The circumstances that may lead to different distribution mechanisms may include testator’s marital status and requirements to distribute the estate to a specific beneficiary.
The following pattern for the distribution of estate is commonly used by married couples in the UAE:
|Order or priority||Relationship||Percentage of estate|
|First beneficiary||Spouse||100% of the estate|
|Alternate beneficiaries (if spouse does not survive the testator)||Children (if any)||100% of the estate (divided equally between them, if more than one)|
|Further layers of alternate beneficiaries (if spouse does not survive the testator and testator does not leave behind any children)||Parents / siblings / relatives / friends||100% of the estate (divided between them as per the instructions of the testator)|
For persons who are either not married or have divorced, the distribution mechanism may depend upon their personal circumstances and we have not seen any particular pattern adopted in such cases.
2. Appointment of guardians
Children below the age of 21 years are considered to be minors in the UAE. The testators having minor children should appoint guardians to ensure the well-being of those children during their minority.
The following pattern of appointment of guardians is commonly used in the UAE Wills:
(a) Permanent guardians
|Order or priority||Relationship|
|First choice permanent guardian||Spouse|
|Alternate permanent guardian (if spouse does not survive the testator)||Any close family member (i.e. parents/ brothers/sisters of the testator or the spouse)|
|Further alternate permanent guardian (if spouse and the first alternate guardian do not survive the testator)||Any close family member/friend (i.e. parents/brothers/sisters of the testator or the spouse)|
There can be further layers of permanent guardians to cover a situation where the spouse and alternate guardians do not survive the testator.
In the case of mirror wills, the spouses appoint each other as the permanent guardians. The appointment of alternate guardians is reflected in the same way in both wills, with the names of alternate guardians matching in both documents.
(b) Temporary guardians (also known as interim guardians)
In cases where the alternate permanent guardians are resident outside the UAE, it is also a common practice to appoint temporary guardians who are based in the UAE. The role of the temporary guardians is to take custody until the permanent guardian arrives in the UAE to take custody of the minor children.
The following issues are also taken into consideration while determining the issue of guardianship:
- The father of a minor child is the automatic guardian and, as such, a Will is not required to appoint him in this position.
- For any female child, a non-blood relative male cannot be appointed as a sole guardian as per the UAE Public Policy. Any such male is required to be appointed together with another female as the joint guardian of the female child.
3. Appointment of executors
The issue of appointment of executors is important for the timely execution and distribution of estate to the beneficiaries.
The following pattern of appointment of executors is commonly used by married individuals in their UAE Wills:
|Order or priority||Relationship|
|First choice executor||Spouse|
|Alternate executor (if spouse does not survive the testator)||Any close family member or friend who has practical know-how and can be involved in the probate proceedings after the death of the testator|
|Further alternate executors (if spouse and first alternate executor do not survive the testator)||Any close family member or friend|
There can be further layers of alternate executors to cover a situation where the spouse and initial alternate executors do not survive the testator.
The above commonly used patterns have been observed by us based on our extensive experience of drafting of wills for non-Muslims in the UAE. Your requirement may or may not be similar to these commonly followed patterns. Legal Inz ensures that the Wills drafted by us are tailored to your specific requirements and reflect your true intentions.
3 Key Wills and Estate Planning Lessons Learned in UAE from COVID-19
COVID-19 has taken the entire world by a huge surprise and forever changed how everyone looks at personal, family, healthcare, commercial and social issues. We have realized that certain things that we have always given importance to are not really that important and the things that we have ignored or not taken seriously are of extreme importance.
Wills and estate planning is one area which has certainly gained unprecedented attention across the world during the COVID-19. The United Arab Emirates is no exception. We have seen that the demand for Wills in Dubai and across the UAE has increased multifold as expats and individuals having assets in the UAE have realized the important of protecting their family while living away from home or having assets in a jurisdiction outside their home country.
Given the trends in Wills and estate planning in the UAE, here are the 3 key lessons that we have learnt from COVID-19.
Lesson 1: Figuring out what is important
It has not taken long for everyone to figure out what really is important in a time of crisis. COVID-19 is a crisis the scale of which no one has seen or predicted. Life has become uncertain at best. Given this uncertainty, everyone have started paying serious attention to estate planning and Will writing in the UAE.
From a data collected since the reporting of first case of COVID-19 in the UAE, we have seen that there has been a sharp rise of 200% per cent in the demand of Wills in Dubai and across the UAE. Majority of individuals who have raised these enquiries are non-Muslims as the UAE laws provides them with the option to choose the distribution of their assets in the UAE through a duly registered Will in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other Emirates.
A large number of healthcare workers have also sought the Will writing services given their immediate exposure and risk profile. These individuals have shown responsibility not only towards the community by fighting in the frontline but also towards their families and loved ones through registering their Wills in the UAE.
We have also seen a significant increase in interest in Will writing by Muslims, though Will writing options for Muslims in the UAE remain limited due to the mandatory application of Shariah Law to their assets. As the Muslims are allowed to write guardianship Wills, this option has been exercised by these residents with more frequency.
Lesson 2: Use of modern technology for Will registration
The government departments in the UAE did not take long to address the risks associated with this crisis. DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre and Wills Registry for non-Muslims at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department have each introduced Will registration for non-Muslims through video conferencing. This has ensured that non-Muslims can register their Wills from the comfort of their homes without having to visit the relevant registration offices. This option is available to everyone either living inside or outside the UAE. Introduction of this technology is in line with the ‘stay home’ guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Will registration through video conferencing is an entirely new concept and the UAE has been quick to adopt it, courtesy its modern legislation which has catered for the use of modern technology. We have seen that the laws in western jurisdictions are yet to be amended to allow for any similar Will registration services.
Lesson 3: Legal services for Will writing can be sought from home
We have seen that the mindset of clients has also changed when it comes to sourcing legal services for writing Wills in the UAE. This change of mindset is in line with the change of working style across the industries as everyone has realized that work can still be done with same efficiency remotely through the use of modern technology. Clients do not need to see lawyers face to face or through video calls to ensure that their instructions are well communicated. We have ensured that the instructions for writing Wills can be communicated equally effectively through the use of modern technology.
The above 3 lessons are important for everyone and the trends are likely to continue as the world is now moving towards a virtual working environment.
Legal Inz assists its clients in registering their Wills in Dubai and across the UAE and all our Will writing services can be sourced by clients from the comfort of their own homes.
Order and Register your DIFC Wills from Home
DIFC Courts Wills Service (DIFC CWS) has introduced modern technology for the registration of DIFC Wills through video conferencing.
The process of writing and registration of DIFC Wills can be completed in the following three (3) easy steps:
- Order your DIFC Wills by selecting your desired option (i.e. Single or Mirror Wills) on our website.
- We will prepare and have your draft Will(s) approved by you and DIFC CWS.
- You will sign and register your Will(s) through a video conference with the DIFC CWS.
All arrangements for the video conference will be made by the DIFC CWS once the appointment for the registration has been made.
As part of the requirements, you will be required to have two (2) witnesses present at the time of the video conference. However, the witnesses are not required to be present in the same location as you. All parties can thus join the video conference from different locations.
This initiative has made the entire process of requesting and registration of Wills with the DIFC CWS a seamless exercise.
We ensure smooth preparation and registration of DIFC Wills. Order your DIFC Wills today and secure the future of your loved ones.
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 Courts Wills Service 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 Courts Wills Service.
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.
Law No. 15 of 2017 Regulating Inheritance, Wills and Probate for Non-Muslims issued in Dubai and the Status of DIFC Courts Wills Service
The Ruler of Dubai, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum issued Law No. 15 of 2017 regulating inheritance, wills and probate for non-Muslims (the “Law of Wills in Dubai”) in the year 2017.
This has brought much needed clarity on the legal regime applicable to wills for non-Muslims living or having assets in the UAE. The DIFC Wills & Probate Registry Rules (the “Rules”) provided clarity on writing of wills and probate process for non-Muslims covering assets in the United Arab Emirates.
The Law of Wills in Dubai provides flexibility to non-Muslims to avoid the application of the Sharia law to their estate. According to the Law of Wills in Dubai, a “Non-Muslims Wills and Probate Registry” shall be formed in both Dubai and DIFC Courts for the registration of wills for non-Muslims.
The DIFC Registry is already established by the DIFC Courts in the form of DIFC Courts Wills Service (“DIFC CWS”). The Rules provide the format and process of the registration of Wills as well as the process of probate after the death of the testator. The DIFC CWS is thus governed and regulated by the Law of Wills in Dubai as well as the Rules.
The Wills registered with the DIFC CWS are required to meet the following requirements:
- The testator must be a non-Muslim;
- The testator must be over 21 years of age;
- The document must be signed in the presence of two (2) witnesses – one (1) of whom shall be the registration officer at DIFC CWS;
- The document must meet the minimum drafting requirements prescribed; and
- The document must not contain any language or wishes of the testator that are contrary to public order or morals in the United Arab Emirates.
Any documents that do not meet the above requirements shall be considered null and void. Our Wills Draftsman is duly registered with the DIFC CWS and ensures that the Wills drafted for each client are valid and accepted for registration.
Three (3) Things You Need to Know About Executors in UAE Wills
Making a Will in the UAE by stipulating your desired mechanism for the distribution of your assets amongst your family members is one part of your responsibility. However, appointing the right person to distribute your assets is equally important. In legal terminology, the person writing a Will is known as the ‘testator’ whereas the person you hand over the responsibility for executing your Will is known as the ‘executor’ of your Will.
Here are the three (3) most important things you need to know before appointing executors in your Will to be registered in the UAE.
1. Who can be appointed as the Executor?
Your executor can be a family member, friend, or even a lawyer. Typically, a spouse or a close family member (such as a sibling or parent) is appointed as a primary executor. However, you should also appoint at least two (2) alternate executors to cover a situation if the primary executor passes away before you or is otherwise unavailable or unwilling to act.
For the appointment of alternate executors, unless you have another close family member available, your decision should be based on how trustworthy and capable the person is. Since the executor is entrusted with something as important as distributing your wealth, appointing an unreliable person could land your family’s future in jeopardy. In addition to this, it must be ensured that the person has at least the basic know-how of the UAE’s legal system. It is also recommended that the executors should be the individuals who will or are likely to remain UAE residents in the future.
The UAE law states that the executor of a will should be at least 21 years of age. The person should not be convicted of felony or declared bankrupt.
As stated above, the executor could be a close relative or a professional (such as a lawyer). In complex cases, it may be advisable to appoint a professional as an executor as the professional is likely to handle the entire process of probate and distribution of assets without any hassle to the beneficiaries.
2. What are the responsibilities of the Executor?
The executor’s role begins by filing an application to initiate the probate process upon the testator’s death. It is the executor’s obligation to first obtain a probate order from the court and then distribute the assets amongst the beneficiaries as per the instructions laid out in the Will. Moreover, he/she plays a key role in resolving any possible disputes arising over inheritance.
It’s also the executor’s duty to administer the estate in good faith and take all necessary actions to protect the estate and beneficiaries. For instance, the executor is entitled to sell a part of the estate vulnerable to damage and destruction. The executor must tread carefully and exercise utmost caution in performing the Will’s instructions. He/she may be held responsible for any deliberate errors made in allocating the assets against the instructions provided in the Will.
3. What happens in the absence of an Executor?
Problems are bound to arise in the absence of an executor in Wills made in Dubai and across the UAE. In such cases, disputes are likely to arise amongst the beneficiaries. This may result in a prolonged probate process which can substantially delay the disbursement of assets.
If for some reason, the appointed executor is unable to or declines to bear the onus of executing the Will’s instructions, the courts can appoint an administrator amongst the individuals agreed upon the beneficiaries. The role of the administrator is similar to that of the executor. If deemed necessary, the courts may also appoint multiple administrators.
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.
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
DIFC Courts Wills Service (formerly known as DIFC Wills Service Centre) has been set up specifically to cater for the requirements of non-Muslims owning assets in the United Arab Emirates.
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 the United Arab Emirates and/or outside.
Service is available for both residents and non-residents
Read our Article on 5 reasons for registering a Will with DIFC Courts Wills Service
Related links: Visit DIFC Courts Wills Service‘s website.
- 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 Courts Wills Service. click here to to find out which of the two (2) options you should choose.
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