Non-Muslim Wills

wills_uae

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

Wills for UAE Assets

For those that have assets in the UAE there is a simple reason to make a Will. The Government of Dubai official website states that ‘The UAE courts will adhere to Sharia law in any situation where there is no Will in place’.

This means if you pass away without a Will, the local Courts will distribute your estate and appoint guardians according to Islamic/Sharia Law principles. This distribution may have some surprising and unexpected implications which differ from your intentions.  If you do not have a Will, once you pass away, it is not possible for your loved ones to enforce or carry out your wishes. Sharia law requires that your personal assets, including your bank accounts, will be frozen until liabilities have been discharged, and then distributed by a predetermined formula. An example of Sharia law’s predetermined formula is that the wife of the deceased will automatically receive 1/8th of the estate if she has children. The proportions will differ if the deceased’s wife does not have children. The distribution of assets according to Sharia law, in such circumstances, can take a long time and, even, several months.

Even jointly held assets will be frozen until the issue of inheritance and succession is determined by the local courts.

Unlike England and Wales and other countries, the UAE does not recognize the survivorship rule. This is a principle that states there is automatic transfer of joint assets in certain circumstances.  Instead, each joint owners share will be treated separately and distributed as above.

As for business interests, such as share ownership, in the event of a shareholder or director’s death, Sharia law would again apply and his/her shares do not pass automatically by survivorship. Therefore your business interests can end up in the hands of family members you did not wish to have a stake in your business. This would apply to both mainland and free-zone companies.

Another important issue is how Shariah law applies to the guardianship of your children. For instance, if the deceased is the father of children, then the mother has no automatic entitlement to legal guardianship of her children.

Therefore, the importance of having a will your assets and children cannot be over-stated. You should be prepared today for all that may and can happen tomorrow.

Will for Business owners

We understand that business owners have special needs and critical questions when growing and preserving the wealth of their businesses, including inheritance plans, succession matters, and transfer of assets and maintaining the interests of business partners and other beneficiaries. It is also likely that a significant portion of private wealth is tied up in the family business, so special consideration needs to be given to the various issues that can arise. Another important fact to consider in the UAE is that company shares do not pass automatically by survivorship and are subject to probate in the case of a shareholder’s death. This often results in lengthy processes that affect the operations and profitability of the business. We have business succession specialist lawyers to prepare wills and provide appropriate solutions that address all key issues pertaining to business ownership and protection.

Wills for UK citizens

We have a team of English qualified solicitors and therefore one of our specialist areas is preparing Wills for British nationals or individuals owning assets in the UK. We can prepare a suitable Will with respect to the testator’s UK estate and advice on the same. Our UK Wills comply with all the requirements of the laws of England and Wales.

DIFC Wills & Probate Registry

On Sunday 3rd May, 2015 the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) opened its own Wills and Probate Registry (the “Registry”). This is a very important development for non-Muslim expatriates; as it will ensure that if a will is registered with the Registry, Sharia law will not apply to their assets in Dubai. This landmark development aims at promoting investment in the region and will allow family members to avoid lengthy proceedings and uncertainty if they pass away. Only non- Muslims may register their Will with the Registry

To create even more certainty, the Registry works in conjunction with the Dubai Land Department, the Dubai Economic Department, and other government departments to ensure that a Will is registered with the relevant departments. This ensures there is no issue with the distribution of property under a DIFC Will. This will also protect your assets from any unlawful transfers.

To obtain more information about Wills which now include RAK assets, please contact one of our experienced Wills & Inheritance lawyers. Email us at info@twslegal.ae or call +971 4 448 4284.

Our articles on Wills and it’s importance in the UAE

  • new_law_october2017

New Dubai Law No. 15 – Nita Maru

November 19th, 2017|0 Comments

New Dubai Law on Non-Muslim Wills and Administration of Non-Muslim Estates in Dubai.
Non-Muslim expats welcome a new law recently issued in Dubai which creates a legal framework for registration and enforcement of non-Muslim wills.  It […]

  • non_muslim_wills_rak

Non-Muslims with assets in RAK may now include them in Dubai wills – Nita Maru

March 8th, 2017|0 Comments

A digital platform will be launched on Sunday allowing non-Muslims with assets in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah to include these items in their Dubai-registered will.Dubai International Financial Centre Wills & Probate Registry (DIFC […]

  • frequent_questions_on_wills_uae

Frequently asked questions on wills in the UAE – Nita Maru

March 8th, 2017|Comments Off

More than 2,000 UAE residents have now registered their will with Dubai International Financial Centre’s Wills and Probate Registry. The registry was set up in May 2015 to help non-Muslims ensure that their assets in […]

  • expats_plan_uae

Why expats in the UAE need to plan for the worst – Nita Maru

May 31st, 2016|0 Comments

If your family is left behind grieving, stranded and strapped for cash, it won’t be because you did something wrong. It will be because you did nothing.

As an expat living in the UAE you can […]

  • wills_common_mistakes_made

Common mistakes to avoid while drafting a will – Nita Maru

April 26th, 2016|0 Comments

Why wills that are homemade or prepared by unlicensed writers are often found to be invalid and ineffective in the UAE
DUBAI: Incorrectly drawn up wills are often found to be invalid and ineffective in the […]

  • expat_connect_wills_uae

UAE expatriates must start planning today for tomorrow – Nita Maru

February 17th, 2016|0 Comments

A will is essential to protect your family and assets.It is not a pleasant subject to think and talk about. However, all expatriates living in the UAE need to be aware that the laws over […]