In the absence of a meticulously crafted Will, the UAE Law of Inheritance takes precedence upon your demise, potentially influencing the allocation of your assets and the guardianship of your minor children. Ensuring the protection of your assets as an expatriate in the Emirates hinges on the establishment of a registered Will within the UAE.
Wills for Non-Muslim Expatriates in the UAE
For individuals residing in the UAE or holding assets in the region without a registered non-Muslim Will, the local Courts will distribute the estate based on a predetermined formula and appoint guardians following Islamic/Sharia law principles. This may significantly differ from your intended distribution of assets. To circumvent lengthy court proceedings and provide clarity for your family, non-Muslim expatriates should register their Will with the DIFC Wills Service Centre.
Moreover, the DIFC Wills Service Centre collaborates with various government agencies, including the Dubai Land Department and the Dubai Economic Department, ensuring a swift and smooth execution of the Will’s directives.
Most Common Options for Expats to Register Wills in the UAE
Expatriates in the UAE can choose from various options to register their Wills, depending on their emirate of residence and individual circumstances. Here are key locations and authorities for registering UAE Wills as an expat:
i) DIFC Courts (DIFC Wills Service Centre):
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) houses a specialized Wills & Probate Registry, known as the DIFC Wills Service Centre.
Expatriates utilizing this service can ensure that their estate is administered and distributed according to their wishes, bypassing the predetermined formula under local UAE law.
ii) Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD):
For expatriates in Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) is the designated authority for Will registration.
The ADJD facilitates well-defined procedures for expatriates to document their asset distribution and estate planning preferences.
Making & Registering a Will in the UAE as an Expat
To create and register a Will in the UAE as an expatriate, follow these steps:
i) Draft Your Will:
Collaborate with a legal professional to create a precise, clear, and legally sound Will.
ii) Choose the Jurisdiction:
Decide on the UAE court or authority for Will registration.
iii) Register Your Will:
Take steps to register your Will, ensuring recognition and enforceability in the UAE.
iv) Specify Beneficiaries and Allocations:
Clearly define beneficiaries and specify asset distribution.
v) Appoint an Executor:
Designate a trustworthy executor responsible for executing the Will’s instructions.
vi) Review and Update:
Periodically review and update the Will to reflect changing circumstances.
vii) Keep Copies Secure:
Safeguard copies and provide relevant parties with information on its location.
Why Do You Need Registered Wills Draftsmen and Lawyers When Making a Will in the UAE?
Engaging registered Wills Draftsmen or Lawyers, such as NAM Accountants, is crucial for several reasons:
i) Knowledge of Local Laws and Compliance:
Professionals are well-versed in local laws, ensuring compliance with regulations governing Wills, inheritance, and property distribution.
ii) Avoiding Legal Disputes:
Professionally drafted Wills reduce potential disputes, providing clarity and minimizing ambiguity.
iii) Efficient & Legally Up to Date:
Streamlining the process and ensuring prompt registration, with the ability to facilitate updates over time.
iv) Legal Representation:
In case of legal issues, having legal representation from registered Wills and Probate/Estate Inheritance Lawyers is essential.
Without a properly drafted Will, the UAE Law of Inheritance can impact the distribution of assets and guardianship of minor children. As an expatriate, safeguarding your assets in the Emirates requires a registered Will within the UAE, even if you have an existing Will in your home country.