Complete Guide to Drafting a Will in the UAE:

Mar 22, 2024

Drafting a will in Dubai is crucial for planning the distribution of your assets according to your wishes after your demise. Whether you are an expatriate or a local resident, understanding the procedures for drafting a will is essential to ensure the peace of mind of your loved ones and the protection of your assets.

  1. How to Draft a Will:

In principle, the UAE may include movable funds and real estate located inside and outside the country. If you own assets and properties in other countries, you should draft a will specifying that it only concerns assets in the UAE and therefore draft a separate will for foreign properties. If your children are minors, a permanent guardian should also be designated. You should determine how movable assets (cash, investments, cars, personal items, etc.) and immovable assets should be distributed and who should be the executor of their will.

  1. Types of Wills:

There are single wills and mirror wills. A single will is prepared for a single testator, while a mirror will consists of two (2) wills of almost identical nature, usually prepared for couples.

  1. Where to Register a Will:

The DIFC WPR (Dubai International Financial Centre, Wills & Probate Registry) allows individuals to register their will according to the principles of testamentary freedom, ensuring that assets will be transmitted according to the deceased's wishes.

  1. Taxation of Transferred Assets:

Transferred assets are taxed according to national law. In the UAE, there are no estate taxes. When assets are established in other states, it is necessary to check if an international convention provides for a right of taxation in another state.

  1. In Case of Absence of a Will in the UAE:

In the absence of a will registered with local authorities, Sharia law applies by default to the succession of assets held in the United Arab Emirates. If you do not plan your succession, the UAE Court will apply Sharia law and distribute your assets according to its principles. All personal assets of the deceased, including bank accounts, will be frozen until debts are settled.

According to Sharia, the surviving wife receives 1/8th of the assets if she has children and 1/4 otherwise. Sons receive a double share compared to daughters, and the rest of the succession goes to the ascendants (parents) for 1/6th. In the event of the wife's death, her husband receives half of her assets in the absence of descendants and 1/4 if the deceased had children.

It is also important to consider child custody. Under UAE law, parental authority belongs to a male family member, while daily guardianship of children is generally entrusted to the mother. To avoid complications where the mother could not make any decisions for her children without permission from the male holding parental authority, it is advisable to register a will to designate guardians, especially in the event of the simultaneous death of both parents.

Your heirs may attempt to enforce the deceased's national law before the Dubai Court, in accordance with local law. However, they will need to provide the Court with the legislation of another country regarding successions, accompanied by legal opinions. This process may lead to the appointment of experts tasked with studying foreign law. However, this law can only be applied if it is compatible with the public policy principles of UAE law.

In summary, drafting a will in the UAE is essential to safeguard your assets and ensure peace of mind for your loved ones. Our team is here to assist you at every step of the process. Contact us today to benefit from our expertise in estate planning.

You might also like