Not a lot of people relish the idea of making a will. Accepting that death could be a possibility in the not too distant future can feel morbid and, understandably, unpleasant. However, registering a will can give you the assurance and peace of mind that will make life more worry-free.
Simply put, a will is a legal document that enables the testator (maker of the will) to plan out what will happen to their assets and possessions after they pass. In the UAE, assets not covered by a person’s will shall be dealt with in accordance with Sharia law. This goes for owning property in Dubai, as well as bank accounts, insurance, and guardianship.
Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with how registering a will whilst owning property in Dubai works. JMR Solicitors has the knowledge and experience to help guide you through the process.
Importance of a Will in Dubai
In a bid to encourage more people to lay down roots in the UAE, new laws around wills and inheritance were introduced in September 2020. This means that non-Muslim expatriates could apply the laws of their home country in their will, as long as it is properly registered.
Without a will, difficulties and undesirable situations can arise for your family and those close to you. For example, failure to have a proper will in place can result in:
- Frozen bank accounts (single or joint)
- Cancelled dependent visas
- Frozen or delayed investments
- Arguments and disagreements within the family
Not only does registering a will give you peace of mind, but it ensures your assets are given to your family, or dealt with, in a way that makes things simpler for them. Otherwise, your assets will be dealt with in accordance to Sharia law. What does this mean?
Sharia law concentrates on divvying up assets between the deceased’s family. Depending on the familial situation, a certain percentage split is applied between parents, wife, sons, and daughters. The percentages are not equal, with the son generally getting the largest share.
Wills for Muslims in the UAE
For Muslims living in the UAE, Sharia law will automatically apply to a person’s assets after their death. However, there are still benefits and reasons to register a will with the DIFC.
Drafting a will enables you to outline a third-party beneficiary or inheritor – someone outside the family. However, this only applies if the third-party inheritor does not receive more than a third of the deceased’s entire wealth. Otherwise, all the inheritors needs to approve this section of the will.
Non-Muslim Ex-Pat Will for Dubai
If you own property or assets in Dubai, or have moved to Dubai from another country, you will need to register your will with the DIFC. Despite reformed laws around wills, registering one will give you full control over your assets.
Owning property in Dubai as an ex-pat means that, unless you are happy for UAE law to be applied, you will need to outline who inherits it in a will. This is because property owned in the UAE by ex-pats is an exception to the home country laws. JMR Solicitors can offer extensive knowledge and expertise around Dubai real estate to help navigate property inheritance in the UAE.
Registering your will with the DIFC has been made simpler by UAE law no. 15 of 2017. This law allows ex-patriates in Dubai to register their will in English at the DIFC Wills Service Centre, as opposed to Arabic.
Steps to Register Your Will with DIFC
There are 2–3 steps to take when you register your will with DIFC. It’s vital to seek out expert legal assistance when executing these steps, in order to avoid delays or errors.
- Drafting & Preparing – You will need a legal specialist registered with the Dubai Legal Affairs Department to help draft your will. At this stage, you can decide which type of will you wish to draft, e.g. a full will, covering all assets and guardianship.
- Translation – If you are submitting a will to the Dubai Courts, it must undergo a legal translation into Arabic. You can skip this step if you register your will with the DIFC, as wills written in English are accepted.
- Registration – Registering your will with the Dubai Courts means it is applicable in all the Emirates. If you register with the DIFC, it is only applicable in Dubai. A rough estimation cost of registering a will is AED 15,000-20,000.
JMR Can Help Register Your Will in Dubai
Drafting and registering a will can be both an emotional and admin-heavy time. If you wish to maintain full control over your property and assets in Dubai once you have passed on, we recommend you register your will with DIFC.
This isn’t something you have to do alone. Our team of legal professionals, at JMR Solicitors, are expertly placed to assist you in UAE legal procedures, including getting your affairs in order.
For more information, contact a member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +00161 491 3933.