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Will Deed & Court Procedure of Inheritance-UAE

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Registering Wills in Dubai:

You can register your Will with Dubai International Financial Centre's Wills and Probate Registry which was launched on on May 1, 2015.

Wills and Probate Registry allows non-Muslims to register their wills, which allows them to transfer their assets as they wish upon their death.

Before the new inheritance law enforcements, judges at the court of first instance would apply Sharia to non-Muslims in case of death, since courts didn't recognise wills from outside the country.

The new law has shortened the time frame needed to settle the distribution of assets and wealth of a deceased expatriate to a few months. It also decreased the amount of money paid to settle the inheritance.

The cost of the registration of a will at the Dubai Court is Dh2,165, not including Arabic translation fees. The DIFC will charge Dh10,000 and 15,000 for two mirror wills for spouses. A will specifically for guardianship costs Dh5,000, and the cost for two mirror wills for two parents is Dh7,500.

The right of survivorship, where assets are passed on to the surviving joint owner upon the death of the other, does not apply in the UAE. For Muslims, the court will automatically apply Sharia and distribute assets to predetermined beneficiaries.
For non-Muslims, options are available should they prefer to specifically itemise to whom their assets in the UAE should go to when they pass away.

DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (DIFC WPR) covers assets in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.

Any non-Muslim expatriate over the age of 21 and has something valuable in the UAE to pass on can choose to write a will.

What is Will and How to write a Will deed?

A 'Will' is a legal declaration of a person's intention which he desires to be performed after his death. Through 'Will' one can transfer his property to any person he likes, i.e. Faithful servant, handicapped children, widowed daughter etc. It avoids confusion about the disposal of property, among the family members after his/her death. A will can be created by any person at any stage of life.

Major Characters of Will
1. A will must be in writing and signed by the testator (except privileged will by soldier/airman engaged in warfare or a mariner being at sea). The signature must be placed in such a way that it shall appear that it was intended to give effect to the instrument as a Will.

2. The Will should be attested by two or more witness in the presence of the testator. The attesting witnesses need not know the contents of the Will. They are only witnesses to the signature or mark of the testator.

3. The attesting witness and his/her spouse must not be beneficiary under the will otherwise the bequest (the act of gifting money or property in a will) in their favour would be invalid. However the validity of other bequests under the will not be affected.

4. It takes effect after the death of the testator.
5. Will is revocable during the life time of the testator.
6. There is no particular form for will by law. The language should be as simple as possible and understandable even by a layman.
7. A Will can be made on plain paper (need not to be on a stamp paper)
8. Registration of Will is not compulsory, though it is desirable

Persons authorized to make a Will
Every person of sound mind, not being a minor can dispose of his property by Will.

The following are fundamentals for making a valid Will:

- Testamentary capacity and sound disposing mind
- Knowledge of contents
- Free from undue influence/fraud/coercion
- Voluntary act

Property that can be disposed by Will

All properties, movable or immovable, of which the testator is owner and which are transferable can be disposed of by a Will. Property which is not legally transferable cannot be bequeathed. It means we cannot write a Will on the property which is legally not transferable.

Who can be a legatee under a Will?
Any person can be a legatee (beneficiary by the will) including a minor or a lunatic. However, a bequest to a person not in existence at the time of testator's death is void (This happens when the legatee die before testator). A minor can bequeath property through executor/trustees till the time of attaining majority.

Testator - Is the one who has made a legally valid will before death
Legatee - Beneficiary by the will

Indian Laws of Wills & Inheritance
Hindus, Buddhist, Sikh or Jains may execute will as per the section 30 of the Hindu succession Act, 1956.
The law of Will is contained in the part VI of the Indian Succession Act, 1925 and Christians, Parsis, and the Jews are governed by this.
Wills made by the Muslims are governed by the Muhammadan Law which is basically governed by their religious texts. The inheritance laws for Sunnis are different from those of Shias.

NOTE: If you want to use the Will Deed in UAE, it has to be prepared both in Arabic and English and get attested by Notary Public.
+ If you want to use it only in India, you can do attestation from Indian Consulate.

Do you need more guidance? Mail your queries to visaprocess.ae@gmail.com
Non-Muslim expats: How to get a will for assets in the UAE

If you do not have a will, the UAE Law of Inheritance will be applied on your assets after your demise; and can even affect the guardianship of your children if they are in the minor age group.

As a non-Muslim expat in the UAE, you may already have a will made in your home country for your assets there. But your home-country laws of inheritance may not apply to your movable and/or immovable assets in the UAE, unless you have a registered will recognised as per UAE law.

What can happen if you don’t have a will upon death?
- Your bank accounts will be frozen immediately for existing or contingent liabilities (regardless of it being a joint or individual accounts).

- Dependent visas will be cancelled.

- Re-appropriation of assets may be unfavourable and may not stay within your immediate family.

- Custody of minor children may go to someone you don’t prefer or the local government might have to intervene

- Life insurance claims may go into covering your liabilities or be counted as part of property to be appropriated by the Courts

- A court case appealing the automatic appropriation can take as long as five years and result in huge legal payouts.

- Bulk of your estates might go to extended family as per Sharia law.

What you need to do beforehand?
- Inform your immediate family i.e. spouse or parents about your assets and liabilities from time to time.

- Have a complete list of all your assets, including movable assets, property, life insurance, employee benefits and have an idea of your net worth.

- Always properly complete the beneficiary details on your employee benefits form.

- Try to have separate bank accounts, assets and visas with your spouse so as to avoid problems if accounts are frozen.

What do you need beforehand?
+ Emirates ID.

+ Passport (original and a copy).

+ The document “Will” to be legalised, with a sufficient number of copies for all parties concerned and a copy for records.

+ Documentation that provide clear proof of the bequeathed property ownership.

+ An official translation attested by the Ministry of Justice is required where the document is drafted in a language other than Arabic language.

Getting a will in Dubai

While you can do the entire process alone, we recommend using a consultant as verifications of various documents and processing is easier with such agencies. Ensure that they are specialised in this field and always go through a trusted reference.

You can get your will registered at Dubai Courts or through the DIFC Wills and Probate registry.

Note: More details on the differences in will registration in Dubai Courts and DIFC Wills and Probate registry explained below.

Steps to get registered

1. Drafting the will
This is the most important step of the process and while you can ask a legal consultant in your home country to help draft the will, it is essential that you get the will checked by a specialist in the UAE. A wrongly written will can tie up your assets in long and tiresome legal battles for your loved ones. Most specialised consultants offer this service as an add-on and costs can range anywhere from Dh2,000 to Dh6,000.

For DIFC Wills and Probate registry, they do not provide any will-writing services and when you go there, you must be ready with your written will. However, they have a register of companies (which is not proof of endorsement) on their website who can do it for you. It is ultimately your responsibility to decide who drafts your will.

2. Arabic translation
All documents to be submitted in Dubai Courts need to be translated to Arabic by approved legal translating centers (registered with the Courts and Ministry of Justice). Consultants can help you find ones closest to you or even take you to these centers. This can cost up to Dh1,500 per will.

For DIFC Wills and Probate registry, the documents need not be translated and you can go through the entire process of documentation in English.

3. Coverage
A will registered in Dubai Courts can cover assets and your estates across the country. Bank accounts, property, guardianship and all other clauses in the will are applicable in all emirates during execution of the will.

However, registering your will with DIFC Wills and Probate registry will give you coverage only in the emirate of Dubai.

4. Registration
Registering your will at Dubai Courts costs Dh2,165* per will while registering your Dubai-specific will at the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry can cost you upwards of Dh10,000.

5. Power of attorney
Sometimes an expat may take up Power of Attorney (PoA) for their spouse in order to give them legal control over assets during their lifetime. This is not sufficient to ensure that your family is protected upon your death.

Taking a PoA is a great way to compliment your will, because it will enable your next of kin or trusted person to look after your assets during your lifetime. However, this is not a substitute for a will as all PoA agreements turn void once death is confirmed.

A power of attorney draft can cost around Dh1,000 to Dh2,000 while registration costs Dh265.

6. Guardianship will
A separate guardianship will is not mandatory in Dubai Courts and the clause can be inserted in your will. However, if you want to make a separate guardianship will, it will be considered as any other will and charged Dh2,165 as is the case normally.

7. Embassy and consulate
Once your will is notarised and registered in Dubai Courts, you need not submit anything to your embassy or consulate. However, assets in your home-country are subject to local laws and regulations. Get in touch with your embassy for all such cases.

Who will execute the will?
You can nominate your spouse, immediate family, including children or siblings who are above 21 years of age as the executor of the will. This can be a difficult job, so select a person who is trustworthy and capable of handling stress.

Court Procedure of Inheritance

For non-Muslim expatriates who don't have a will, there is a likelihood that Sharia law or forced rules on inheritors Will apply. The court may also decide on who takes care of the surviving children upon the untimely death of the parent/s. If the expatriate has assets outside the UAE, he could lose a huge proportion of his inheritance to excessive taxes.

If a non-expatriate Muslim in the UAE has assets in the country and abroad, it is advisable to get an international Will or a similar document from their home country.

Muslims can write a Will in which they can give out only one third of their property to non-family members, including charity organisations and the less fortunate.

I am a Muslim woman; two months ago, my spouse died in Dubai. I have two sons as well as my spouse's father and mother. My question here is who is the rightful heir of my husband's legacy and what is the court procedure and duration? Are my spouse's parents entitled to inherit from the husband's fortune? Please advise in this regard.

A: The questioner shall ask the Sharia Court to issue a Decree of Distribution, as the questioner shall provide two Muslim witnesses before the court, who are required to be aware of the deceased person and his family members so as to explain to the Sharia Court who the deceased's relatives are. Therefore, the court will issue a Doctrinal Certificate within two days from the date of application in which it will state the rightful heirs of the deceased. As for the question on the deceased parents' right of legacy, in accordance with the Islamic Sharia, the deceased's parents inherit along with the questioner and her two sons (GN).

Plan how your valuable assets and accounts, both online and physical, will be administered when you’re gone.
In order to ensure all your assets, accounts and information are administered according to your wishes, consider the following:

+ Do an inventory of all your assets, including your bank accounts, investments, emergency funds, including digital accounts that you'd like to be sorted out before your death.

+ Consider writing a will to spell out the disbursement of all your valuable possessions. In the absence of a will, the Shariah Law will determine who gets to keep what upon your death. The UAE is home to a number of will writers and lawyers that can assist you. Ensure that the company offering will-related services has the necessary credentials, including a lawyer qualified in family law. Please don't try to write your own will simply to save money.

+ Choose your executor carefully. You may appoint a corporate body (bank/solicitor) or nominate younger people and more than one or two as executors, to ensure they are likely to outlive you and execute your wishes. Where the executors are corporate bodies, they are likely to outlive us. Where executors are family members or friends, it is conceivable that they might die before we do, so it is advisable to nominate younger people and more than one or two as executors.

+ Have your will translated into Arabic, attested in your home country and ratified by the UAE embassy in your home country before submission to the UAE court. Usually, people will not bother to take these actions because they may find different rules apply and translation to other languages if they move country. Often, wills are written but the spouse will obtain translations, among others, following the death.

+ If you have an active life online and maintain important digital accounts such as Ebay or PayPal, which you think your family should have access to when you die, make a list of all the passwords and pass the information to a trusted executor. Create regular back-ups of all data, both those stored local and those online. Create a detailed document with instructions on how to access all of your digital data and backups. Appoint a designated digital executor to provide any necessary technical support.

+ It doesn't necessarily mean you have to leave the passwords of all your social networking and email accounts to an outsider or executor. You might want to keep some of your digital accounts hidden for eternity. More and more people have a digital cyber world to take care of and they may wish to have such things deleted immediately after their death. Web-based photo libraries, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and personal documents may be things that the deceased does not want to be found at all. Websites such as Facebook allows accounts to be memorialised or deleted by an immediate family member, while Twitter will remove an account if they receive a death certificate and provide all archived tweets from the user to the executor of the estate. (GN)
Will registration in Abu Dhabi
From August 2018, a special “Non-Muslims Wills Office” started operations at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department to register inheritance wills for non-Muslim expatriates in the capital.

In case of sudden death of the testator, the assets will be distributed by the court as per the will. The wills registration office for non-Muslims builds up the confidence among residents of legal protection of their assets in the UAE and it ensures them the liberty of selecting the appropriate method to write and register their will concerning the disposal of their estate after their death.

Any person can bequeath his/her estate to males and females equally and in case of his/her death, the assets will be distributed by the court as stated in the testator’s will.

As per the will, beneficiaries can claim assets of the testator anywhere in the UAE, whether they register in Abu Dhabi or Dubai. It will be valid for all the UAE.

Revoking of will:
The changing or revoking of will is concerned, the testator can revoke the will at any time, or otherwise replace it by a new one.

Submit application and get approval

The application is submitted online at Abu Dhabi Judicial Department [ADJD] website. The competent employee verifies if the application meets the requirements. A notification by SMS is sent to the applicant with the approval of the application or request of modification. The application fee is paid online through ADJD website.

Processing of application
The applicant can contact the Non-Muslim Wills Registration Office to schedule an appointment for the application processing. Then the applicant has to visit on the fixed date the Non-Muslim Wills Registration Office to submit the original documents. After completing these procedures, finally the will is legalised and will be delivered by the Notary Public of the department.


Emirates ID.

+ Passport (original and a copy).

+ The document “Will” to be legalised, with a sufficient number of copies for all parties concerned and a copy for records.

+ Documentation that provide clear proof of the bequeathed property ownership.

+ An official translation attested by the Ministry of Justice is required where the document is drafted in a language other than Arabic language.

Other details
+ Venue: Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (Main Building)

+ Timing: 8am to 2pm [Sunday to Thursday]

+ Service Fee: Dh950

+ Residents can contact for details at 02 651 3257 or 02 651 3262 or email: wills.non-muslims@adjd.gov.ae

Related Pages
How to convert to Islam in UAE?

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Will Attestation at Indian Consulate

Death Cases - Indian Consulate


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