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A Will is a legal document that declares your intentions as to what should happen to the distribution of your assets, on death. These assets typically include real estate, money, investments, jewellery, vehicles and personal or household belongings that you own, and they can be bequeathed to individuals, families or institutions, either in part or as a whole. A Will can also be used to specify other wishes including the appointment of temporary and permanent long-term guardians for your children, contributions to charitable causes, and specifying funeral arrangements.


For expatriates living in the UAE, there is a very simple reason to make a Will.

The official website of Dubai states - Since the UAE is a Muslim country, all courts adhere to Shari’a laws in regard to inheritance in the case where no will exists at the time of death. Shari’a law is complex and can result in very different distribution of your wealth and assets compared to your home country laws. However as a result of the Personal Affairs Law (No 28 of 2005), a non- Muslim expatriate who is resident in the UAE can opt for the law of their Domicile Home Country to be applied to the distribution of their UAE assets, provided they have a legally recognized will. If you own a business, whether this be a Free Zone Company or an LLC, in the event of a shareholder or director’s death, local probate laws apply and shares do not pass automatically by survivorship nor can a family member take over in lieu.

The Sharia Law principles regarding guardianship of bereaved children importantly state that on the death of the children’s Father, the Mother has no automatic entitlement to legal guardianship of her own children.

It is prudent to have a will to protect your assets and children and be prepared today for all that may and can happen tomorrow.

Any home country based wills need to be signed and witnessed and in conformity with the laws of your home country. For expatriates who decide to create your wills in the UAE, please ensure the same is attested by your consulate/embassy. For your will to be recognized in the UAE, it will then need to be legally translated into Arabic by an authorized translation firm. The Arabic translation then needs to be attested by Dubai Courts Notary Public (DNCP) or Private Notary Public authorized by the government of Dubai.

Another essential provision for all expat married couples is to have separate emergency funds, in case of the death of a spouse, since joint accounts can get frozen by the bank, till a court order determining the release of assets. Providing each other a 'Power of Attorney' document in addition to a Will is recommended to prevent this. Legal advice in compliance with the UAE laws must be taken prior to preparation of any legal documents.

There are only certain lawyers who are authorized by the Government to write wills, it includes Adel Mohamed Al Qasemi Advocates & Legal consultants. For more details, please contact: legal@adllaw.ae

DIFC Wills and Probate Registry

After years of observing the pressing need for clarity on the current UAE wills and inheritance legislation, we are pleased to welcome the newly launched regime from the DIFC: The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry that should provide certainty for non-Muslim expatriates to pass on their Dubai estate in the event of death to their chosen beneficiaries.

  1. The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry marks the introduction of a new set of rules relating to succession and inheritance matters for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai.
  2. The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry provides a mechanism for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai to pass on their estates according to their wishes.
  3. The rules governing the Wills and Probate Registry will complement existing UAE laws on inheritance for non-Muslims, and provide non-Muslims with the option and right to choose the way in which their estates are distributed.
  4. The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry will be within the DIFC jurisdiction and will work with the DIFC Courts for the production of grants and court orders for the distribution of assets.
  5. The DIFC is the first jurisdiction in the MENA region, where non-Muslims can register a will under internationally-recognized common law principles.
  6. By creating legal certainty for non-Muslim inheritance, the Wills and Probate Registry will encourage capital investment in Dubai and support economic growth.

Due to our expertise and knowledge of wills and inheritance matters in this region, we are pleased to have participated in the working group involved in formulating and contributing to the Wills and Probate Registry Rules.

For more details, contact us on legal@adllaw.ae

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