Safeguarding your family and assets in the UAE

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, 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” 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, the family’s visas will be cancelled within 30 days and they would have to leave the country.

‘The simple answer to all three queries, is that expats need to be smart and have wills prepared by licensed and registered lawyers in Dubai. By doing so, they alleviate their concerns by having correct mechanisms in place with peace of mind for the future.’ says Nita.

Over the years I have seen for many people, making a will is one of those things they intend on doing, however distractions in life mean they never get around to it. ‘Thinking about your death is an uncomfortable thought’ says Nita, ‘but 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 offers a mechanism for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah to pass on their assets according to their wishes. The rules provide non-Muslims with the option and right to choose the way in which their assets are distributed.

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

‘For expatriates in the UAE, there is a very simple reason to make a will. The Dubai government’s official website states that ‘the UAE Courts will adhere to Shariah law in any situation where there is no will in place’. ‘This means if you die without a will, the local courts will examine your estate and distribute it according to Sharia law,’ she says.

The implications are that all personal assets of the deceased, including bank accounts, will be frozen until liabilities have been discharged.

‘The widow who has children will qualify for only 1/8th of the estate, and without a valid will, this distribution will be applied automatically. Even shared assets will be frozen until the issue of inheritance is determined by the local courts,’ says Nita.

The absence of a will may cause authorities to intervene in the guardianship of bereaved children, especially when death befalls both parents simultaneously. Unless a will specifies who should raise your children, there is a possibility that their care may be entrusted to others.

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

Further the Dubai Law (15) of 2017 concerning Administration of Non-Muslim Estates in Dubai and Execution of their Wills has strengthened legal protection for expats when executing wills.

At TWS we have registered a very high volume of DIFC wills and have successfully executed DIFC Wills through the enforcement stage at the Dubai Court. This step is a significant milestone in the execution of wills and should provide further reassurance to expats registering wills at the DIFC Wills Service Centre.

Our team of Wills and estate planning lawyers have been advising and preparing wills for over a decade. Can you afford not to talk to us?

To book a complimentary consultation please contact us on or call +971 4 448 4284.TWS now serves clients as a `one-stop law firm’ based in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Dubai and offers full legal services both in the private client and corporate/commercial services:

Private Client Services:

Wills & Estate Inheritance; DIFC Wills; Abu Dhabi Wills, UK Wills, Administration of a Deceased’s Estate & Probate; Sharia Law and Inheritance issues; Family & Divorce Matters; Custody & Guardianship; Financial Settlements; Division of Assets; Travel Bans; Mediation & Reconciliation; Employment Disputes; Property/Real Estate Matters; Gifting of Property; Powers of Attorney and Certification.

Corporate/Commercial Services:

Company Formation & Business set-ups; Drafting/Negotiating of Contracts and Commercial Agreements; Franchising; Joint Ventures; Buying & Selling A Business; Legal Compliance; Litigation; Dispute Resolution; Employment Law.

Why use TWS Legal Consultants:

– Leading and established law firm in Dubai for over a decade

– Fully licensed by the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department

– Fully licensed and approved by Dubai Ruler’s Court

– Our Legal Consultants are qualified professionals

– Are registered at The Law Society of England and Wales/Solicitors Regulatory Authority, to practice as solicitors

– Registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts’ Register of Legal Practitioners

–  Leading role in the working panel of the DIFC Wills Service Centre

– Registered a high volume of DIFC Wills at the DIFC Wills Service Centre

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