What Happens If I Die In The UAE Without A Will?



The most common question I am asked as a Will Writer is, “What happens if I die in the UAE without a Will?” It is even more common than, “What happens to my children if I die?” Dying without a Will is known as dying intestate. Most countries make provision for people who die without making a Will. These rules are established through the culture and traditions of the country from which the person is from or where the assets are. Some countries do not give their citizens the right to distribute their assets as they wish. For those from England and Wales, this is not a problem. However, the rules of intestacy are rarely the same in each country. This leads to conflict and loss of certainty in the distribution of the estate.


Loss Of Control


The key thing a person gives up when they have no Will is control.


Loss of control over who looks after your children.

Loss of control over who gets your stuff (your estate)


This leads to increased costs of administering your Estate as well as potentially higher taxes.



Under English Law, the rules of intestacy depend on your marital status and whether you have children.  Where the deceased was married and has no children, the UK rules give all the assets to the surviving spouse. Giving all your assets to your spouse benefits from the ‘interspousal exemption.‘ This is a special exemption from death duties between spouses. For UK domiciled individuals, the UK taxman assesses worldwide assets for Inheritance Tax on death. This includes assets in the UAE.


Under UAE law, where no Will exists, the local courts will seek to distribute assets in the UAE in accordance with local law. Local law is based on sharia principles favouring the male side of the family in the settlement of the estate.


Gifts on death to fathers, brothers and uncles by those who are UK domiciled do not benefit from the interspousal exemption. Consequently, they are assessed for Inheritance tax which is charged at a flat rate of 40% on death after exemptions and allowances.


A simple Will gifting everything to your spouse can avoid this.


Why Parents Should Have A Will


Guardianship WordCloud


Even when a person has few assets, if they have children, it makes sense to have a Will prepared. This provides the courts with a legally valid statement of their intentions for their children.


A Will also gives parents the opportunity to control when their children inherit. If there is no Will, they could inherit as young as 16. Many parents feel that this is too young. Preferring their children are concentrating on their education or getting their first job.


Preparing a Will under the law of your home country, if permitted, is the first step.


Next Steps


Dying without a Will causes additional stress, cost and uncertainty to loved ones at a difficult time.


Arranging a Will takes a short amount of time and protects your interests and those of your family.


To arrange your legally valid will read this post or contact us to have a complimentary discussion with a qualified Will writer.


My podcast contains more information on Wills in the UAE.


Please call 050 594 5217, complete the callback form or arrange a meeting here.