Will is a document disposing off the estates of an individual after his demise. Wills and the following actions are governed by the following two (2) legislations of the UAE:
Interpretation of inheritance laws and how it is applied by the UAE courts is a matter that mainly concerns the Non-Muslim expatriates living in the UAE.
Registration of wills for Muslims in the UAE
Muslims can bequeath a third of their properties to non-heirs. The registration of the wills for the Muslims is normally done by the respective courts of any emirate of the UAE.
The Dubai Courts used to register the wills for the Muslims in the UAE. However, recently there was a pause in the aforementioned service by the Dubai Courts. The Abu Dhabi Courts provide the service of registration of the wills of Muslims in the UAE.
Why registration of wills is important for the expatriates in the UAE?
The Personal Affairs Law allows the non-Muslim expatriates in the UAE for the application of the laws of their own countries in regard to distributing their assets in the UAE. However, this is applicable only in relation to the moveable assets, such as cash, investments, cars, and other personal particulars. With regard to immovable properties, article 17 of the Civil Transactions Law comes into play, and the law of the United Arab Emirates shall prevail over the wills made by the expatriates. Therefore, Wills are mandatory to protect your immovable assets in the UAE.
Eligibility criteria for individuals to create a will:
Essential constituents of a will
Guardianship: It is imperative to appoint any eligible person to secure the guardianship of your minor children in your unfortunate absence, failing which it is up to the UAE courts to appoint eligible guardians for your minor children.
Executors: You shall appoint a trustworthy person to execute the will in your unfortunate absence. The executor’s main duties shall include distribution of assets in the best interests of the beneficiaries, and pay off the debts. The executor may be chosen from your family or friends, however, he/she has to be over 21 years of age.
Beneficiaries: The WILL must set forth eligible beneficiaries with no-fault.
Relevant provisions with regard to wills
Article 1.3 of the Personal Status Code and article 17.5 of the Civil Transactions Law of the UAE, along with recent amendments in the Year 2020, is the foundation of the registration of WILLS in the United Arab Emirates.
Different types of wills
Guardianship Will: This will shall be made solely for securing the guardianship of your minor children.
Property Will: This type of will covers only your real estate.
Full Will: This Will encompasses both the guardianship and the assets of the testator.
Business Owners Will: This type of will allows you to add beneficiaries to maximum of 5 separate shareholding in the free zone or onshore companies in the UAE.
Financial Assets Will: This type of will allows you to add various bank accounts to the will.
Registration of Wills in the UAE
The expatriates have two venues to register their wills in the emirate of Dubai. One is the Dubai Courts Public Notary, the other venue is the DIFC Wills Service Centre.
There are few dissimilarities in the processes carried out here in these two venues in regard to the costs and the language used in the wills. However, DIFC Wills Service Centre is only open to non-Muslim expatriates in the UAE.
At the DIFC, Wills are to be registered in the DIFC Courts Wills Service Appointment Portal. Once an appointment is made, the following documents are to be uploaded to the portal:
New DIFC rules towards the registration of wills, incorporates both the residents and investor assets in the whole of the emirates along with the assets outside the country. At the DIFC, they also provide virtual registration of the wills making it convenient for those living outside United Arab Emirates.
Legal translation of the wills
In the Dubai Courts, once the draft Will is prepared by the client, the draft has to be translated to the Arabic language by any translator registered with the ministry of justice. On the other hand, the draft Will need not be translated to the Arabic language in the DIFC Wills Service Centre.
Cost for registration of Wills
The approximate cost of a will in Dubai is around AED 8,000 to AED 10,000 when registering at Dubai Courts. Meanwhile, the cost of a DIFC will ranges between AED 15,000 to AED 20,000. The above cost of making a will with a lawyer would include drafting, translation and registration of a full will in Dubai.
The Wills Registration Office at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department takes care of the wills registration in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Since 2018, Abu Dhabi Judicial Department is providing the service of will registration. In the pandemic situation, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) made it convenient by shifting all the procedures online. An innovative step was recently taken up by the ADJD and now the Wills be uploaded to the online portal where a digital signature certificate shall be used for verification and witness. These steps by the ADJD made the procedures fraught-free for the non-Muslim expatriates in the UAE.
Firstly, you shall make an application, for which you wait to get approval. After you get the approval; you shall upload the relevant documents to the online portal, and you shall get your will registered with ease. At the ADJD too, legal translation of the draft will to the Arabic language is mandatory.
The Latest amendment to the Civil Transactions Law
Recently, UAE brought in changes to the inheritance laws for the expatriates. The new changes stipulate that the inheritance would be dealt with as per the nationality of the deceased person at the time of his demise.
Real Estate as an exception
Real Estate is an exception to the amendment to the Civil Code (Federal Law No. (30) of the Year 2020. The principles of Shariah will be applicable to the real estate of the non-Muslim expatriates in the UAE.
Costs for registering a will
The government fee for the will registration is AED 750 (excluding the typing costs). The government fee for acquiring probate of a will is AED 950 for non-Muslims.
In the light of the aforementioned laws and the amendments, it is always advised to register a Will as per the UAE laws, as the court procedures (if you go depending upon the amendments to the Civil Transactions Law) are going to be time-consuming filled with legal complexities in the event of unregistered will in the UAE.