Protect Your Legacy Now as an Expat in UAE

In the Middle East, the reality of the situation is that expats are unaware of the implications of local inheritance laws to their assets, children and business. Expats should be prepared today for all that may and can happen tomorrow.

My husband and I jointly own a freehold apartment in Dubai. If one of us dies, will the living spouse or our children automatically inherit it?

My cousin and I are business partners and equal shareholders in a small business in Dubai. In the event of my death, will my shares in the company pass automatically to my wife and children?

My husband runs a company and sponsors me and our children. What effect will his death have on our resident visas, staying in the UAE, and managing his company?

‘These are just a few of the questions on inheritance issues that my lawyers and I get from clients on a daily basis and in fact more so now due to this pandemic.  In the first case, in the UAE, inheritance for Muslim nationals is guided by Sharia law, while the law of the deceased’s home country could be applied for non-Muslim expatriates hence expats are recommended to make wills, create a trust, a foundation or have an offshore structure in place’ says Nita Maru, Managing Partner of TWS Legal Consultants in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai.

‘In the second case, in the event of a shareholder’s death, local probate laws are applied to a business, but the results may be unpredictable as shares do not pass automatically by survivorship, nor can another family member take over in lieu’, says Nita.

‘In the third instance, upon a sponsor’s death, previously the family’s visas would have been cancelled and they would have had to leave the country. A change in law has introduced a visa extension for widows, a development that can provide respite for grieving families.’

‘The simple answer to all three queries, is that expats need to be prepared in advance and have wills, trusts, foundations or offshore structures in place. By doing so, they alleviate their concerns by having correct mechanisms in place with peace of mind for the future for their assets and family’ says Nita.

‘Over the years, I have spoken with many expats who express their desire to make a will/succession plan, however  distractions in life mean they never get around to it. Thinking about your death is an uncomfortable thought, but one that has unfortunately been forced to the forefront of people’s minds during the pandemic’ says Nita. Postponing the writing of a will results in dying intestate, which can create a whole host of complications without express input over the future of your wealth, assets, business or even children.

The DIFC Wills Service Centre  and The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department offers a mechanism for non-Muslims to pass on their assets according to their wishes.

Nita Maru having played a key  role in the working panel for the DIFC Wills Service Centre also makes a strong case for drafting a will.

Nita elaborates on the value of a will. In short, a Will allows you to:

  • Set out your express wishes
  • Provide for the welfare of family and/or friends
  • Cover the issue of Guardianship
  • Pass along your assets as intended
  • Arrange for the efficient management of your property/assets

In recent times foundations have become increasingly popular for wealth structuring in the UAE.

Our lawyers have advised clients in wealth protection strategies for over a decade. You can have confidence that we will listen to your needs and help you create a robust wealth protection plan under a Foundation that fulfils your objectives.

Our team of Wills and Succession planning lawyers have been advising and preparing wills, offshore structures/ trusts/ foundations for over a decade. Can you afford not to talk to us?

To book a  consultation please contact us on or call +971 4 448 4284.

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