Easy Steps for Creating a Will for Expats in the UAE

A Simple Guide to Making a Will for Expats in Dubai

Living and working in Dubai can be busy for many of us, especially for those of us who aren’t Muslims. We often get caught up in our jobs and forget about something really important – making a will. 

This guide is here to help you understand easily how expats in Dubai can make a will. It’s like a roadmap to make sure that your money and things go where you want them to when you’re not around anymore. So, let’s keep it simple and make sure your wishes are looked after and your family is taken care of.

Why is it important to make a will for Expats in UAE?

Making a will is super important for expats in the UAE Opens in a new tab.because, without one, the law might decide what happens to your stuff and who takes care of your loved ones. So, by creating a will, you get to say exactly how you want things to go, making sure your wishes are followed. Here are the key reasons why having a will matters:

  1. Guardianship: A will helps choose who will take care of your kids, both permanently and temporarily.
  2. Assets Autonomy: It lets you control what happens to your property. Without a will, UAE law decides, but with a will, you can give specific things to specific people or charities.
  3. Business Succession Planning: If you own a business, your will can plan who gets what and appoint people to handle things after you’re gone.
  4. Distribution of Assets: A valid will makes it easier for UAE courts to handle your stuff after you’re not around, following your intentions.
  5. Avoid Family Disputes: It prevents family fights and expensive court battles, giving you peace of mind that your wishes will be respected.

Having a will in the UAE is crucial to safeguard your assets, family, and avoid complications. Your home country’s laws might not let you express your wishes, so having a will here ensures your specific requests and plans are followed.

If you don’t have a will, the UAE Law of Inheritance will determine how your assets are distributed, possibly leading to outcomes you didn’t intend. Even if you don’t own many assets, making a will is essential for appointing guardians for your children in case of your absence, providing assurance that they will be well cared for.

The Law No. (15) of 2017 in Dubai regulates inheritance, wills, and probate for non-Muslims. If you are over 21 years old, have children below 21, or own assets in Dubai, you need to create a will.

The courts in the UAE follow Sharia law, and without a will, they decide who gets what based on these laws. To avoid this, it’s important to create and register a will. 

It’s a way to make sure your things go where you want them to, especially if you own stuff with someone else, as there’s no automatic sharing in the UAE.

Understanding Right of Survivorship:

The “Right of Survivorship” is a concept related to jointly owned property. When you co-own something with someone and there’s a right of survivorship, it means that if one owner passes away, the other automatically gets the deceased owner’s share of the property.

However, in the UAE, even if you jointly own something with your spouse, this automatic passing on of ownership doesn’t happen. Surprisingly, many people, especially expatriates, didn’t know this until they thought about making a will. Without a will, the UAE’s sharia-based law takes over, dividing the property based on these laws, whether or not you’re Muslim. This can make transferring assets a complex and lengthy process if the owner passes away.

Thinking about death isn’t a comfortable topic, and preparing for it can be even less so. However, getting ready for what happens after you’re gone can actually ease a lot of stress. Making a will isn’t about you; it’s about making things clear for your loved ones. Your family won’t have to guess what you wanted, and they won’t need to go through a complicated and expensive legal process. So, despite the discomfort, preparing for these matters is a way to ensure your wishes are known and followed, making things easier for those you leave behind.


Getting Started with Making a Will for Expats:

To start making your will, it’s important to open up a conversation with your family, even if it might feel a bit uncomfortable at first. The idea is to think about everything you own – your home, stocks, bank accounts, cars, and valuables – and create a plan to ensure these things are taken care of in the future.

You don’t have to be a resident to make a will in the UAE. If you have possessions (assets) here or if you have children living with you, you’re eligible to register a will. Moreover, you can also include items you own outside the UAE in this will.

Different Types of Wills for Expats:

  1. Full Will: This covers all your assets and includes plans for guardianship.
  2. Property Will: For up to five properties in the UAE.
  3. Guardianship Will: Appoints both temporary and permanent guardians for your children.
  4. Financial Assets Will: Specifically for bank and brokerage accounts.
  5. Business Owners Will: For free zone or UAE onshore companies.

Steps to Making a Will for Expats in the UAE:

  1. Legal Translation: Once your will draft is approved, it needs legal translation into Arabic if registering at Dubai Courts. If registering at the DIFC Wills Service Centre, the process is in English.
  2. Registering the Will: The final step involves registering your will at either Dubai Courts or DIFC Wills Service Centre. Dubai Courts tend to be more economical than DIFC, making it a preferred choice for many.

Options for Expats to Register Wills in the UAE

It’s crucial to have a legally qualified lawyer in Dubai draft your will. They are well-versed in the probate process, which ensures your wishes are implemented. You also need to appoint an executor, someone over 21, to handle your will.

Expats in the UAE have three choices for registering a will:

  1. Utilizing the DIFC Wills Service in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
  2. Opting for the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.
  3. Considering the Dubai Courts.

Cost and Registration of Will in DIFC for Expats in the UAE:

The price of registering your will depends on what type of will you choose. If it’s just for you (a single will), it can be cheaper than one for a couple (called a mirror will). A mirror will is when both people in a couple make almost the same will, leaving their things to each other if one of them passes away.

Here’s a breakdown of the costs from the DIFC Wills Service Centre:

  • Full Will: Covers everything. Single Will costs Dh10,000, and Mirror Wills cost Dh15,000.
  • Guardianship Will: For kids under 21. Single Will costs Dh5,000, and Mirror Wills cost Dh7,500.
  • Property Will: Covers shares in up to 5 properties. Single Will costs Dh7,500, and Mirror Wills cost Dh10,000.
  • Business Owners Will: Covers shares in up to 5 companies. Single Will costs Dh5,000, and Mirror Wills cost Dh7,500.
  • Financial Assets Will: Covers shares in up to 10 bank accounts. Single Will costs Dh5,000, and Mirror Wills cost Dh7,500.

Virtual and Online Registration:

Property wills, business owners wills, and financial assets wills already had a virtual registry at DIFCOpens in a new tab.. Now, Full wills can also be registered online. The registration process involves video conferencing, allowing you to do it remotely from your phone, tablet, or computer at home. The system lets you and two witnesses join a video call from different places, and you can upload your approved will directly to the system with electronic signatures. It’s designed to make the process easier and more accessible for everyone.

You’ll need their official IDs, your draft will (the plan you’ve written), your Emirates ID, passport, and proof that you’ve paid the fee. Once they check everything, you all can sign electronically to finish the process.

How Long Does it Take?

If you go to the DIFC Wills Service in person, it takes about 45 minutes to an hour. So, it’s not a very long process!


Registering Your Will with Abu Dhabi Courts:

Any expats with assets or family in the UAE is eligible to register their will.

There are two convenient options available for registering a will. Individuals can either visit the Wills Registration Office at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department in person or opt for the online registration process through video conferencing. Please note that video conferencing requires either UAE residency or a valid visit visa.

The establishment of this new office serves a crucial purpose. It provides expats residing in Abu Dhabi and other emirates with additional choices in distributing their estates. This initiative aims to offer flexible legal solutions, especially in the unfortunate event of death, ensuring that individuals have the autonomy to make decisions tailored to their preferences.

Required Documents:

  • Emirates ID and Passport (original and copy).
  • Drafted will with sufficient copies.
  • Proofs of ownership for mentioned properties (original and copy).

Special Conditions:

  • Presence before the Non-Muslim Wills and Probates Office (can be done online).
  • If representing someone else, provide a Power of Attorney specifically for making wills.
  • Non-Arabic documents must be translated by a certified legal translation office.
  • Documents from outside the country must be authenticated by competent authorities.

Steps to Register:

  • Submit application and documents through available channels.
  • Receive SMS updates on application status.
  • Pay prescribed fees.
  • Contact Non-Muslim Wills and Probates Office to schedule an appointment for probating the will.
  • Approach the Non-Muslim Wills Office on the set date to submit original documents and have the will probated.

Cost:

  • Dh950.

Online Process:

  • Complete the process online using this linkOpens in a new tab..

Contact:

  • For assistance, contact the ADJD Wills and Probates office at 02 6513257 or 02 6513262.

Notarizing a Will with Dubai Courts:

Dubai Local Courts offer a straightforward process for expats to notarize a bilingual will before a Notary Public.

Required Documents:

  1. Passport
  2. Emirates ID (if available)
  3. Title deeds of property (if mentioned in the will)

Advisable Schedule of Assets and Liabilities: It is recommended to include a detailed schedule containing all local and overseas assets, their estimated market values, and outstanding debts. This schedule, along with the registered will, provides crucial information to the legal administrators of the estate. It can be amended at any point throughout the expat’s life.

Step :

  • Drafting the Will: To ensure all requirements are met and the will is enforceable, seek the assistance of a legal counsel in drafting the will.
  • Sending the Will to Dubai Courts: Your legal counsel can facilitate this step, and the submission can be done conveniently online.
  • Registration: Personal attendance is required before the Notary Public to sign and finalize all formalities related to the will.

Cost: The fees for executing and notarizing a will before the Dubai Courts amount to approximately Dh2,000.


Implementation of a Will in Dubai: 

After a person’s demise, bank accounts are frozen. With a will, the Succession Certificate from the Dubai Family Court facilitates the activation of bank accounts, making the process smoother. Guardians named in the will take custody of children, and the executor distributes assets through probate, settling any liabilities.

Can Muslims Make a Will in Dubai?

For Muslims, Shariah law determines asset distribution. However, they can make Shariah-compliant wills in Dubai, allocating one-third of their assets to charity.

While creating a will in Dubai may seem like an investment, it’s a wise decision to secure your family’s future. Taking these steps ensures that your wishes are respected, and your loved ones are taken care of in challenging times.


Deena

Human Resource professional and writer.

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