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Expatriates of Non-Muslim: A Guide to Securing a Will for Assets in the UAE

Individuals who fail to create a will before their passing will have their assets divided according to UAE law. In cases involving minor children, the UAE’s inheritance laws also affect guardianship arrangements. To avoid potential complications, it’s advisable for individuals to proactively draft their wills with the assistance of will lawyers in Dubai who specialize in will drafting services.

If you’re a non-Muslim residing in the UAE, it’s crucial to have a will prepared for your assets back in your home country. However, if you own any assets, whether movable or immovable, in the UAE, your home country’s laws won’t automatically apply here. To ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, it’s essential to register your will in compliance with UAE regulations.

Many expatriates in Dubai may not initially plan to make it their permanent home, but a significant number find themselves considering a longer stay than they originally anticipated.

What is a Will?

A Will stands as a crucial document safeguarding the security of your family and ensuring your wishes are honored once you pass away. This legal instrument not only protects your loved ones but also delineates how you desire your assets and affairs to be managed. Our will-writing services are designed to cater to your individual needs. Whether you’re an expatriate residing in Dubai or own properties and assets across the UAE in places like Abu Dhabi or elsewhere, our team of legal experts and consultants is here to streamline this process for you, making it simple and tailored to your requirements.

What happens if you haven’t written your will before passing away?

  1. Bank Account Freeze: Upon your death, whether your bank account is individual or joint, it will be frozen immediately.
  2. Visa Cancellation: Any visas dependent on you will be canceled.
  3. Asset Distribution: The reappropriation of your assets may not favor your immediate family.
  4. Custody Issues: Custody of minor children may be awarded to individuals you didn’t prefer, with government involvement in decision-making.
  5. Life Insurance: Your life insurance might become government property.
  6. Legal Costs: If a court case extends beyond five years, significant legal expenses may arise.
  7. Sharia Law Distribution: Your assets could be distributed according to Sharia law, potentially favoring extended family members.

These consequences highlight the importance of drafting a will to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and to protect the interests of your loved ones.

What are your steps?

Firstly, it’s crucial to keep your family informed about all your assets. This includes regularly updating them about any legal responsibilities you may have.

Maintain a comprehensive list detailing all your assets, including life insurance policies and employee benefits. This list should provide a clear overview of your financial worth.

Ensure that you’ve filled out beneficiary details accurately on any employee benefit forms. This step ensures that in the event of any unforeseen circumstances, your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

Estate Planning for Expatriates of Other Faiths in the UAE

In the United Arab Emirates, having a properly executed will is crucial for non-Muslim expatriates. Without one, there’s a risk that Shariah law will govern how your assets are distributed after your passing, potentially not aligning with your intentions. Unless explicitly stated otherwise in a legally valid will, UAE courts typically apply Shariah law to inheritance matters.

To safeguard your estate and ensure your wishes are honored, it’s imperative to create a valid will under UAE law. Additionally, if you have minor children, appointing guardians through your will provides vital protection for their future well-being. Taking these steps offers peace of mind and safeguards your family’s interests in the UAE.

There are various options available for creating a will in the UAE:

DIFC Registered Wills: These are wills registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). They follow the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry’s rules and regulations, providing expatriates with a secure way to distribute their assets according to their wishes.

ADJD Will: An ADJD will, also known as an Abu Dhabi Judicial Department will, is governed by the regulations set by the judicial system in Abu Dhabi. It offers expatriates residing in Abu Dhabi the opportunity to establish a legally recognized will to manage their assets upon their passing.

Dubai Courts Notary Will: This type of will is prepared and registered through the Dubai Courts Notary Public. It allows individuals to outline how they want their assets to be distributed after their death, ensuring their wishes are legally enforceable within the jurisdiction of Dubai

The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts Wills Registry for Non-Muslims (DIFC WILLS)

The Dubai International Financial Centre Courts (DIFC) offers a specialized service called the DIFC Wills Registry for Non-Muslims, commonly known as DIFC Wills. This service is tailored for expatriates of other faiths residing and investing in the UAE, allowing them to plan for the distribution of their assets and the guardianship of their children upon their demise.
Essentially, the DIFC Wills Service is a safeguard provided by the DIFC Courts to ensure that the wishes outlined in a person’s will are duly executed. This involves the registration of wills with the DIFC Courts Wills Registry for Non-Muslims, which serves as the repository for these legal documents and handles all matters and disputes pertaining to probate.
Operating under the framework of Dubai Law No. 15 of 2017 and a set of regulations designed for expediency and affordability, the Wills Service and the Registry collaborate to facilitate the transfer of a person’s UAE assets to their chosen beneficiaries as specified in their registered wills. This system is characterized by its efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and enforceability through legal recourse.

Types of DIFC Wills

DIFC Wills come in various types, tailored to accommodate the preferences and circumstances of individuals under the common law system. The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry Rules govern these arrangements, granting the DIFC Court the authority to issue probate orders that apply across the UAE without necessitating additional legal procedures through local courts.

The DIFC Wills Registry provides five types of wills for individuals residing in the UAE:

  1. Full Will
  2. Financial Assets Will
  3. Guardianship Will
  4. Property Will
  5. Business Owners Will

To create a DIFC Will, certain criteria must be met:

Non-Muslim Status: You must not adhere to the Muslim faith.

Age Requirement: Both the testator (the person making the will) and any individuals involved in the preparation, execution, or witnessing of the will must be at least 21 years old, in accordance with UAE laws.

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) Wills Registry: Safeguarding Your Legacy in the UAE

For non-Muslim individuals residing in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) offers a vital service known as the ADJD Wills Registry. This registry serves as a cornerstone of the Civil Law system, extending its coverage across the entire UAE.

An ADJD Will is a crucial legal instrument that empowers you to dictate the distribution of your assets and outline arrangements for your children posthumously. Registering your ADJD Will entails either a visit to the registry in person or an online submission, ensuring your wishes are legally documented and upheld.

While crafting your ADJD Will, several prerequisites must be met:

Non-Muslim Status: You must not adhere to the Islamic faith.

Age Requirement: Both you and the chosen executors of your will must be at least 21 years old, aligning with UAE legislation.

Residency Status: Possession of a valid UAE Resident Identity Card is necessary.

Language Specification: Your will must be in Arabic or bilingual, with translations conducted by certified professionals if necessary.

Content: The Dubai Courts Notary service offers non-Muslim expatriates residing in the UAE the opportunity to create a legally binding Will. This document outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the guardianship of your children after your passing. Unlike Shariah law, the Dubai Courts Notary operates under the Civil Law system, ensuring your estate is managed according to your preferences. Notably, this service is accessible for individuals with assets across any of the seven Emirates in the UAE.

To utilize the Dubai Courts Notary for drafting your Will, several prerequisites must be met:

  1. Non-Muslim Status: You must not adhere to the Muslim faith.
  2. Age Requirement: Both you and the appointed individuals responsible for executing your Will must be at least 21 years old.
  3. Documentation: It may be necessary to provide your UAE Resident Identity Card for verification purposes.
  4. Translation and Notarization: Your Will must be translated into Arabic by a certified translator and notarized at the Dubai Notary Public.

Once these requirements are fulfilled, a visit to the Dubai Courts Notary in person is mandatory to sign the Will. To streamline the process and ensure compliance with all necessary steps, individuals can seek assistance from our law office, which can assist in preparing all relevant documentation ahead of time.

Secure Your Future with a Will Today!

Don’t leave your assets and your children’s future to chance. Drafting a will is essential to ensure your wishes are respected after you’re gone. By taking this proactive step, you can safeguard your family’s well-being and protect your hard-earned assets from potential legal complications.

Contact Lawyers in Dubai at for expert guidance and assistance in creating your will. Our experienced team will walk you through the process, ensuring your will is legally sound and reflects your desires accurately. Don’t wait until it’s too late – start planning for tomorrow, today. Your peace of mind is just a click away.

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