Wills for Non-Muslims

Nasser Malalla Advocates & Legal Consultants is a full-service UAE Law Firm with an independent department dedicated to Will drafting services. Unlike the majority of Will writing providers in the UAE, our firm is a fully licensed advocacy as well as a legal consultancy firm with full rights of audience before all of the UAE Courts which allows our firm to represent our clients in case of probate being required through UAE Courts.

 

A Will is an important legal document which enables a person to give specific instructions for the disposal of his or her assets upon death. Assets belonging to an individual typically include real estate property, monies, investment accounts, bank accounts, insurance policy proceeds, valuable jewellery, cars and personal or household belongings that you legally own.

 

Our Wills department can assist you in the transfer of your assets to individuals, families or institutions, in line with your wishes.

 

A Will is also particularly recommended for non-Muslim expats in the UAE as it can be used to specify that you do not wish Islamic law to apply to your assets. A Will is also useful for declaring your preferences for the executors and trustees of your estate, temporary and permanent guardians of your children and contributions to charitable causes as well as declaring your funeral wishes.

 

Non-Muslims have two main options to execute their Wills in the UAE as follows:

 

  1. DIFC Wills & Probate Registry

    The Dubai International Financial Centre – Wills and Probate Registry (“WPR”) is a dedicated entity established for the sole purpose of handling probate related matters. WPR allows non-Muslims to register a Will. A DIFC Will is a Will registered with the WPR and is limited to any assets located in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah only. A DIFC Will ensures that Islamic law shall not be considered in the distribution of assets of a non-Muslim.

     

    The DIFC is a common-law jurisdiction, the principle of testamentary disposition is followed under the WPR rules however this is subject to a challenge brought by an heir. Upon death of the testator, the appointed executor under a DIFC Will is able to apply for a grant of probate from the DIFC Court, which once issued is enforceable in Dubai & RAK without the need for further action through the local Courts in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah. The WPR works in conjunction with the Land Departments, the Economic Departments and other Government departments in the relevant Emirate to ensure that a Will which is registered is enforced in line with the deceased’s wishes

     

    The DIFC WPR offers following four types of Wills

    • DIFC Full Will
    • DIFC Guardianship Will
    • DIFC Property Will
    • DIFC Free Zone Company Share Will

     

  2. Wills for UAE Assets (non-DIFC)

    For non-Muslims who have assets outside the Emirate of Dubai or RAK, the most important reason to make a Will is that UAE courts will generally adhere to Sharia Law in any situation where there is no Will in place even if the deceased was a non-Muslim except if the deceased has left a Will specifying otherwise. It is therefore important to have a Will in place which accurately reflects who your beneficiaries are to be for your assets in the UAE.

     

    A non-Muslim Will for UAE assets is subject to UAE Federal legislation on inheritance and succession which refers to the home country laws of the deceased. Generally, any assets belonging to an individual can be covered under UAE assets Will which may include real estate property, monies, investment accounts, bank accounts, insurance policy proceeds, valuable jewellery, cars and personal or household belongings that are legally owned by the deceased. There is also a potential risk that any real property in UAE may still be subject to UAE Shariah law pursuant to Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 governing the Law of Civil Transactions in the UAE (the “UAE Civil Code”) it is therefore recommended to seek advice from a professional legal advisor.

     

  3. New onshore Abu Dhabi Wills and Probate Registry

    On 23 May 2017, it was reported that the Abu Dhabi government has issued a decree (“Decree”) creating a Wills and Probate Registry in Abu Dhabi (“AD Wills Registry”). The objective of the AD Wills Registry shall be to: Establish an institutional framework to register the Wills of non-Muslims with assets in Abu Dhabi and to raise the level of legal protection over such assets.

     

    Allow the assets including fixed assets in particular to be protected through Wills registered with the AD Wills Registry.

     

    Details of the Decree are expected to be released soon, the procedure for registration of Wills with AD Wills Registry remains to be decided. At this point and based on the available information, the newly created AD Wills Registry is likely to be a counterpart of the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry with a lower registration cost. We understand from our discussions with the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (“Department”) that the proposed registration fee would be around AED 500 per Will. As further details of the Decree have not yet been released, it remains unclear what parameters will be in place for the AD Wills Registry to accept for registration of foreign drafted Wills as opposed to locally drafted Wills. Moreover, a question arises about how a Court might treat such foreign drafted Wills.

     

    The news of issuance of the Decree was released on Tuesday 23th May, 2017 and according to the Department, it is in the process of being published subject to final approvals.

 

[Read More]

UAE Federal Law on Inheritance & Succession+

Common FAQs for Non-Muslim Wills

 

I have minor children – is it important that I make a Will?+
What happens to bank accounts following the death of a UAE bank account holder?+
I have Real Property – is it important that I make a Will? +

[Read More]

What happens to Real Estate Property following the death of a property owner?+
Is it possible for a testator under the UAE Law to withdraw or amend his Will, or is it binding for life once it is organised?+
Is there inheritance tax in the UAE, and if so, how is it calculated?+
What happens if I leave a legacy or gift to someone in my Will who dies before me?+
How long will it take to prepare my Will?+
Can my Will be changed?+

For more information on updating an existing Will, please contact our Wills department on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +9714 3116534.

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