What is a Last Will and Testament?

A Last Will and Testament is a legal document. It sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets in the event of your death. It can also include directions for the care of young children or those under your care such as elderly parents or people of determination. Other common inclusions are wishes for mementos, gifts to charities and funeral arrangements.

What Happens If You Die Without A Last Will and Testament in the UAE?

Having a valid Last Will and Testament in the UAE is an essential part of expat life. It enables non-Muslim expats to opt-out of sharia-based law. Local authorities assume the expat knew this and accepted the situation.

Regrettably, ignorance of the law is not a defence, but many expats are not aware of the consequences of their death in Dubai. Great British Wills informs expats of the consequences of not having a Will and provides will writing services in Dubai.

What is the impact of not having one?

On death, the distribution of the estate is determined by local law. This will depend on what relatives and children the deceased had. A Sharia Scholar will normally be appointed by the court to ensure the correct split is made. The applicable law is Federal Law 28 of 2005 on Personal Status.

For example, Article 323 (2) provides the surviving wife with 1/4 of her husband’s estate if he has no descendants (i.e. children or grandchildren). Article 324 provides the surviving wife with just 1/8th of the estate if children exist.

In my experience, this is not what most non-Muslim couples want. The most common arrangement is for all assets to go the surviving spouse and then to pass to their children on death, or ‘mirror will.’


Where both spouses are British, distribution of assets to anyone other than the surviving spouse would result in a potential Inheritance Tax liability. This tax covers worldwide assets. It is charged at a rate of 40% after exemptions and allowances.


A valid Last Will and Testament in UAE speeds up probate, avoids local law and reduces tax where applicable. Great British Wills is here to provide Dubai Wills for British Expats.

Contact us for more information on expat wills in Dubai, call me on 00 971 (0)50 594 5217. or send me a message using the form below.