Our lawyers are registered with the UK Solicitors Regulation Authority and Dubai Legal Affairs Department. As active members of STEP our lawyers have extensive knowledge of UK/UAE wills and inheritance planning law and how it applies to expatriates in the UAE.
As a niche firm, we operate a fully digital practice and can arrange meetings by video conference if preferred.
Why non-Muslims living in the UAE need a Will
If you are non-Muslim and have assets in the UAE, it is highly recommended that you have a registered non-Muslim Will( DIFC/ UAE/Abu Dhabi) to dictate the division of your assets as per your wishes.
If you are living in the UAE or have assets in the region and die without a registered non-Muslim Will, the local Courts will distribute your estate according to a pre-determined formula and appoint guardians according to Islamic/Sharia law principles. The decisions made by the Court may significantly differ to how you would have bequeathed your assets.
The consequences of having your estate distributed under UAE law are as follows:
- your assets, including bank accounts, will be frozen until liabilities have been discharged and then distributed according to a predetermined formula
- the predetermined formula provides that the spouse of the deceased will automatically receive 50% of the assets and any children will receive the remaining 50%
- Further default distributions will apply in the absence of a spouse or children
- the mother of the children does not automatically become the guardian of the children upon the father’s death
Having advised expatriates and UAE residents for more than a decade, we are best placed to advise on the circumstances that ensue as a result of not having a Will in place. Therefore, we advise that a Will is registered during your lifetime, protecting the interests of your family.
With a Will in the UAE, you can be in control of who inherits your estate and you can nominate Guardians as per your wishes.
How you can avoid Sharia law applying to the distribution of your estate
To ensure a Will is valid and Sharia law will not apply, non-Muslim expatriates should register their Will with the DIFC Wills Service Centre. Doing so will avoid lengthy court proceedings and uncertainty for family members left behind.
Furthermore, the DIFC Wills Service Centre collaborates with the Dubai Land Department, the Dubai Economic Department, and other government agencies, ensuring that the distribution of property and assets listed in the Will takes place swiftly and smoothly.
How can I protect my family business in the UAE?
Our Wills and Estates team collaborate with our corporate law department to assist clients with preserving their wealth, whether based in the UAE or abroad. We can assist you with the following:
- DIFC Foundations
- inheritance structures
- succession planning
- transferring assets
- protecting the interests of surviving business partners and others
Under UAE law, company shares do not pass automatically to surviving shareholders and are subject to probate if a shareholder were to die. This often results in a lengthy delay, causing significant business disruption and profit loss. Our business succession specialists and corporate lawyers can discuss a clear strategy for your organisation and draft a Will or create a DIFC Foundation that realises your objectives and ensures the growth and stability of your business.
To book a complimentary consultation with one of our Wills and UAE inheritance lawyers, please contact us: