A will is a document created by the property owner or principal to give instructions on how their property should be divided upon their death. In the UAE, will and property succession processes are not taken lightly. This is why it is essential to always have a choice ready if you own any property in the UAE. As the UAE is an Islamic State Sharia laws are applied in most of their legal processes. For example, if someone dies and leaves behind a property without a Last Will Sharia laws are implemented and the state may claim ownership rather than distributing it to the next of kin.
Writing a will in the UAE for ex-pats.
If you own property in the United Emirates and are not a resident, you can always create a Will to protect your assets in case of any mishaps. Additionally, the Sharia laws for property inheritance are also applicable to expats. First, you will need to draft your will and layout every detail and instruction that you will need. For the drafting process, it is best to consult an expert to assist you. During drafting, one needs to include an executor and a guardian of the will. The people chosen should be people that you deeply trust.
The official language used in the UAE is Arabic. As such, all legal documents must be presented in the language so you will have to have all key documents translated. Once the translations are done you can register the will so that it becomes legally binding. Registration of wills is the only way to ensure that the contents of the original will are never altered. In the UAE, wills are registered by the court or Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
UAE natives have a more straightforward route when preparing their wills as they automatically write in Arabic and have a much better understanding of how the system works.
What to include in your will?
Typically, the last will is supposed to provide instructions about how your chosen executor will distribute your property once you pass on. Typically, there is some vital information that you will find in almost all wills in the UAE such as bank account details and their type (joint or corporate for example.) If you are holding an account with any bank in the UAE, you will have to register a will for it.
If you own any real estate or hold shares in companies in the UAE they should be included in the will. Movable assets are also property that can be inherited and should be covered by the will. Many parents prefer having their wills early to declare child guardianship in case they die when their children are under the age of 21. Child custody under the laws of the UAE can be unfavourable, especially if the deceased is a Muslim man married to a non-Muslim.
Including your funeral functions are also things many include in their wills. If you have a specific request about how you want your burial ceremony to be conducted, you can mention them in your last will. Most expats request that their bodies be transferred back home in case they die whilst in the UAE.
What happens if you die without a last will in the UAE?
As already stated, Sharia laws are applied when someone dies without leaving behind a will. Islamic inheritance law is quite different and may end up not favouring the rightful beneficiaries. For example, Muslim women are not allowed to inherit everything, including children. The authorities take complete control of your properties and even freeze your bank accounts. In the end, they can choose to either release the property or retain ownership.
To avoid such inconveniences, it is wise to register your will in good time so that you can protect your family from such uncertainties. Remember that, according to Sharia laws, the authorities may not automatically grant the children’s custody to the mother.
Writing a will is one of the best things you can do for your family and assets in the UAE. We at Farahat & Co can go through the process without any issues. We understand that your last will means a lot and we will guide you through the process and make sure you write it as accurately as possible. For expats who wish to use wills outside the UAE, we can help you seek approval from the Notary Public in UAE and other relevant authorities.