The times, they are a-changing, to quote Bob Dylan, and that is the case in the UAE as Muslim expats can now write UAE wills and distribute their assets exactly as they wish, in the same way as non-Muslims.
This is a huge change, and very welcome for many expats, especially those who have bought property in the UAE. Provided a will is set up correctly, and formally registered, assets will no longer be subject to distribution according to Sharia Law.
This is a very recent change and at time of writing has not been picked up by most lawyers and media in the UAE.
All details have been confirmed with the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court and the court has advised that “if you are not a UAE citizen, then, regardless of your religion, you may register a Will with Abu Dhabi Civil Wills Office.”
This change has just taken place along with some other changes in the UAE’s personal status laws that simplifies the options for marriage and divorce.
How do I write a UAE will?
You deal with me for advice and I provide the questionnaires that you need to complete, can assist with completion, advise on the information and proofs of identity and address that you need.
All details are then forwarded to the legal practice I work with to draft wills, obtain your agreement that it is all correct, and deal with the legal translations and registration.
You don’t need to meet with the lawyers, nor do you need to visit a court. A great service for busy people with professional advice.
How much does it cost?
The total cost is approximately AED 6,400 for a couple, around AED 5,900 for a single person.
This includes the drafting of the will(s) by an authorised lawyer at a cost of AED 3,800 plus VAT (AED 3,990). In addition, there are the official translation charges plus the court registration fee.
Does a local will cover assets outside of the UAE?
A UAE will only covers assets in the UAE but is valid in all emirates.
If you have assets in your home country, or any other country, you may require a separate will to cover them, depending on the local laws.
If you have assets in the UK, you should certainly have a separate will with wording to include non-physical assets in the Isle of Man where we set up most offshore investments.
Does a UAE will include guardians for minor children?
However, if the permanent guardians are not resident in the UAE, I recommend setting up separate temporary guardianship, especially if the children are young.
We can arrange this at the same time
Do you arrange non-UAE wills and UAE wills for non-Muslims?
Yes, I do and have done for many years.
More information about wills, for all expats, can be found in this article:
What happens to my UAE property if I don’t arrange a will?
Generally speaking, physical property will be subject to Sharia distribution. That means you have no say in who receives your property and it can lead to a complex and fraught family situation with multiple owners. A difficult situation, the sad death of a family member, is made even harder.
Be aware that transferring partial ownership to other parties has costs and can also have tax implications in a home country.
It also makes a difficult situation harder for those left behind.
Make a will. It’s the kind thing to do.
How do I get started?
The first step is to send me an email and we can arrange a Zoom meeting. Again, very convenient and no need to travel anywhere.
No pressure, no obligation, just professional and ethical advice tailored to your specific circumstances.
During the meeting I will also explain the implications of UAE law in respect of bank accounts and other assets and answer any questions you may have on this or other topics.
There may be other steps you need to ensure your assets and family are fully protected and we can discuss that too.
As with most matters, personalised advice is required based on your specific situation. To arrange a meeting to discuss arranging a Will, or for advice on any other personal financial planning issue, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note that this change does not apply to UAE nationals.