7 January 2013| Last updated on 22 May 2016
Wills and UAE Law
Making provisions for your family and friends via a will can be a bit of a daunting task but expatriates living in the UAE must really think through the consequences of not having a will.
Since the UAE is a Muslim country, all courts adhere to Shari’a laws in regard to inheritance in the case where no will exists at the time of death. Shari’a law is complex and can result in very different distribution of your wealth and assets compared to your home country laws. However as a result of the Personal Affairs Law (No 28 of 2005), a non- Muslim expatriate who is resident in the UAE can opt for the law of their Domicile Home Country to be applied to the distribution of their UAE assets, provided they have a legally recognized will. This is especially important for expatriate women faced with the death of their husband. At such a time the complexity of no will and Shari’a law can be very traumatic experience and ultimately you may not be entitled to any of your husband’s assets depending on the family situation.
Assets such as property and bank accounts should always be held in joint names.
Any home country based wills need to be signed and witnessed and in conformity with the laws of your home country. For expatriates who decide to create your wills in the UAE, please ensure the same is attested by your consulate/embassy. For your will to be recognized in the UAE, it will then need to be legally translated into Arabic by an authorized translation firm. The Arabic translation then needs to be attested by Dubai Courts Notary Public (DNCP) branches at Al Towar Centre in Al Qusais and Al Barsha from 7.30 am to 1 pm and from 4 pm to 8pm. There are also two branches in Dubai Economic Department and Dubai Municipality, though they follow regular government office timings.
You might also be interested in:
- Your guide to bereavement as an #ExpatWoman in Dubai
- Extensive how-to attest your documents
- How to get a residence visa for your new born
Another essential provision for all expat married couples is to have separate emergency funds, in case of the death of a spouse, since joint accounts can get frozen by the bank, till a court order determining the release of assets. Providing each other a 'Power of Attorney' document in addition to a will is recommended to prevent this. Legal advice in compliance with the UAE laws must be taken prior to preparation of any legal documents.
There are only certain lawyers who are authorised by the Government to write wills, so do check that your lawyer is registered, and note that any lawyers offering will services through expatwoman.com legal section are fully compliant.