Without a properly drafted Will, the UAE Law of Inheritance comes into play after your demise, potentially impacting the distribution of your assets and even the guardianship of your minor children. The key to ensuring the protection of your assets as an expat in the Emirates lies in having a registered Will in the UAE.
Wills for Non-Muslim Expatriates in the UAE
If you are living in the UAE or have assets in the region and pass away 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 from how you would have bequeathed your assets.
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.
Most Common Options for Expats to Register Wills in the UAE
Expatriates in the UAE have several options when it comes to registering their Wills. The specific authority or court where you can register your Will may vary depending on your emirate of residence and individual circumstances i.e. types of assets an expat owns. Here are the key locations and authorities where you can register UAE Wills as an expat:
i) DIFC Courts (DIFC Wills Service Centre)
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has a specialized Wills & Probate Registry, known as the DIFC Wills Service Centre. This registry offers a distinct option for expatriates seeking to safeguard their asset distribution and estate planning in a manner aligned with the principles of common law. DIFC Courts have garnered a reputation for fostering an expat-friendly legal environment, which makes this an attractive choice for those with assets or living in Dubai.
By utilizing the services of the DIFC Wills Service Centre, expats can ensure that their estate will be administered and distributed in accordance with their wishes, rather than by the predetermined formula under local UAE law.
ii) Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD)
For expatriates residing in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) is the designated authority responsible for the registration of Wills. The ADJD has established well-defined procedures to facilitate the Will registration process for expatriates. This ensures that individuals in Abu Dhabi have a local avenue to legally document their asset distribution and estate planning preferences.
Making & Registering a Will in the UAE as an Expat
To make and register a Will in the UAE as an expatriate, you’ll need to follow specific steps and guidelines to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. The process involves the following key steps:
i) Draft Your Will
Work with a legal professional to draft a comprehensive Will that outlines your wishes for the distribution of your assets. This document should be precise, clear, and legally sound to avoid potential disputes.
ii) Choose the Jurisdiction
Decide which UAE court or authority will handle the registration of your Will.
iii) Register Your Will
Take the necessary steps to register your Will with the chosen court or authority. This registration ensures that your Will is recognized and enforceable in the UAE.
iv) Specify Beneficiaries and Allocations
Clearly define your beneficiaries and specify how your assets should be distributed.
v) Appoint an Executor
Appoint an executor who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your Will after your passing. This individual should be trustworthy and capable of fulfilling this role.
vi) Review and Update
Periodically review and update your Will as your circumstances change. This ensures that your Will remains current and reflective of your wishes.
vii) Keep Copies Secure
Safeguard copies of your Will and provide relevant parties with information on its location, ensuring that it can be readily accessed when needed.
Why Do You Need Registered Wills Draftsmen and Lawyers When Making a Will in the UAE?
Having a registered Wills Draftsmen or Lawyers Like TWS Legal Consultants is essential when making a Will in the UAE for several important reasons:
i) Knowledge of Local Laws and Compliance
Registered Wills draftsmen and lawyers in the UAE are well-versed in local laws, including the unique regulations governing Wills, inheritance, and property distribution. They can help you navigate these laws to ensure your Will is legally sound. Ensuring that your Will complies with local regulations and is legally valid.
ii) Avoiding Legal Disputes:
Professionally drafted Wills are clear and unambiguous. This reduces the potential for disputes and legal challenges among your heirs, beneficiaries, or other stakeholders after your passing. It provides clarity and minimizes the potential for ambiguity.
iii) Efficient & Legally Up to date:
Registered Wills Draftsmen can streamline the process, making it more efficient and ensuring that your Will is registered promptly, giving you peace of mind that your assets are protected. Also, over time, your circumstances may change, necessitating updates to your Will. Registered Will Lawyers can facilitate these changes, ensuring your Will remains current and valid.
iv) Legal Representation
In case of any legal issues or disputes arising from the Will, having a registered Wills and Probate/Estate Inheritance Lawyer by your side can provide essential legal representation and support.
Without a properly drafted Will, the UAE Law of Inheritance can come into play, potentially affecting the distribution of your assets and even the guardianship of your minor children. As an expatriate, you may have an existing Will for your assets in your home country, but it’s essential to recognize that your home country’s inheritance laws might not extend to your movable and immovable assets within the UAE. The key to safeguarding these assets in the Emirates is by having a registered Will in the UAE.
TWS Legal Consultants – Will Lawyers & Registered Wills Draftsmen
Our lawyers specialize in providing comprehensive guidance and support throughout the process of making and registering your Will. We understand the complexities of UAE law ensuring that your Will is legally valid.
Contact us today to begin the process of making and registering your Will in the UAE. Whether you’re a Muslim or non-Muslim expatriate, we will advise you based on your individual circumstances.