Wills In Dubai

A valid Will is the most effective way of ensuring your wishes are carried out after your death. Wills in Dubai are made more complex by the array of options available to expats. Whilst there is no fixed format in which a Will must be written, there are legal processes which must be complied with in order for it to be valid.


Many people write their own Wills and where circumstances are simple this is often the most cost-effective method. However, life is becoming increasingly complex. For example, couples having different home countries, children by previous marriages, separation, divorce and assets held in multiple jurisdictions. The UK Government funded website “The Money Advice Service” recommends expatriates to seek professional advice.


When approaching an unfamiliar task, such as writing a Will, it takes time to familiarise yourself with what needs to be done and to understand the legal jargon. Even if you wrote a Will several years ago, there will have been changes in legislation and taxation. These changes will need to be researched and consider when writing your Will.


The combination of unfamiliarity, jargon and fine detail adds to the risk of potentially getting something wrong and your Will being challenged in court. Consequently, whilst there is a cost in appointing a Will writer, this is a relatively small amount compared to the amount of your time and effort expended; the risk of missing important Estate Planning opportunities and a potential legal challenge to your wishes.


Local Considerations


For Wills in Dubai, local law permits non-Muslims to use a will written under the law of their home country as a testamentary document via local courts, subject to a few caveats. However, the opening of the DIFC Wills Service Centre in 2015 provides non-Muslim expats with a further choice for their assets.


On 30th June 2019, DIFC extended the range of jurisdictions from just Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah to worldwide assets. However, this is untested. Therefore most Will writers are expected to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach to this latest development.


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Why pay for a Will, if you do not need it? In some circumstances, there is no need for a Will. However, for expatriates living in UAE, this is very rare.

Where no valid Will exists or no Will can be found the deceased will be treated as having died ‘intestate’. The treatment of the deceased’s assets depends on factors such as where the assets are located.

For assets in UK, married couples with children have a right to all of their deceased spouse’s personal effects as well as the first £270,000 of the estate plus half of any amount over £270,000. The balance is distributed evenly between the children. This can cause problems. For instance, where the main asset is the matrimonial home and one of the children wants their inheritance causing the property to be sold.

Situation in Dubai Where There Is No Will

Where there are assets in UAE and there is no Will the situation is complex, local law requires a Sharia scholar to be appointed. This person will oversee the distribution of the assets within UAE in accordance with Sharia principles. The distribution will depend on the relatives of the deceased and others who may make a legitimate claim on the assets such as lenders.

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