Published: Jan 27, 2021

Wills for Expatriate UAE Residents

Are you an expatriate residing in the UAE?

Would you like to protect the well-being of those you care for most?

You may be pleased to learn the distribution of an individual’s estate will now take place according to the laws of the country of which the individual is a citizen, instead of the application of UAE law (which codifies Islamic Sharia principles on inheritance). An exception to this however would still remain with respect to UAE real estate, which shall continue to be subject to UAE laws, unless a Will has been registered in the UAE.


What Has Changed?

Lately, the Personal Status Law has undergone revisions, by way of Federal Decree number 29 of 2020.

Also, the Civil Code has been revised, by way of Federal Decree number 30 of 2020.

These changes to the local regime allow the application of the local law of the home countries of UAE resident expatriates to inheritance of their UAE estate, in absence of a registered will in the UAE.


Assets and Home Country Law:

The following movable property is subject to the new laws, in particular:

  • Money in bank accounts;
  • Investments;
  • End of Service and gratuity payments;
  • Death in Service benefit;
  • Company shares;
  • Vehicles; and
  • Personal possessions, such as jewellery.


Real Estate – Need for the UAE Registered Will

If you hold real estate assets in the UAE, then it is imperative that you register a UAE Will.

The options that are available to you are as follows:

  1. Abu Dhabi: To register the will with the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. The authorities fee is a mere AED 1,000 plus VAT; or
  2. Dubai: To register the will under the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, whereby the DIFC fee is AED 10,000 plus VAT.

If you are non-Muslim, having a locally registered will would create legal certainty for the inheritance of your assets after death and the appointment of guardians for the minor children, if any.

What can be more important than having a testamentary freedom to dispose of your assets as you wish, and having a peace of mind that an individual’s estate will be distributed according to their wishes?


How Can We Help

Although the recent changes in local law are helpful, in order to truly protect your interests it is crucial that you:

  1. understand the framework that would apply to your assets, in the unfortunate case of your passing;
  2. have locally-registered will; and
  3. appoint a guardian(s) for your minor children, if you have any.

Our specialist team at Al Tamimi & Company Corporate Services will be delighted to assist you in this regard.