The will in the UAE is that document which will declare your intention regarding your assets by the time you die. In the will, you can state if you want to transfer or bequeath all of your assets to individuals, institutions, and families whether in part or as whole. The will may also contain other wishes such as the appointment of guardians for the children left, whether permanent or temporary, contributions to charitable institutions, and even arrangements for one’s funeral.
The Importance of Wills for Assets
Dubai’s government stated that in the absence of any will the UAE courts will adhere to the Shari’a law in the distribution of the assets. This may cause some implications which are not according to your best intentions. It is not possible for the loved ones to implement all your wishes without a will to follow. Without a will, all assets will automatically be frozen until all the liabilities are discharged and distributed according to a template formula. This formula means that the wife who has children will automatically receive 1/8th of the estate. This becomes different when the wife does not have children. This process of distribution can take a long time. Joint ownerships are also treated the same way. All assets that are jointly owned are treated according to the inheritance and succession determined by the Shari’a Court.
In terms of share ownership, when the director or the shareholder dies, the Shari’a Court will again apply its laws. Shares cannot be passed on according to survivorship. Instead shares are subject to probate when the shareholder dies. It means following a long process that affects the operations and profitability of the business. The catch here is that the assets might end up with family members who you don’t want to have a stake in the company. This is applicable to both free-zone companies and the mainland ones.
How to Register a Will in the UAE
For the will to be recognized, it has to be translated to Arabic by an authorized translation company. This has to be attested by the Dubai Courts Notary Public branches that are found at the Al Tower Centre in Al Qusais and Al Barsha. There are also branches in the Dubai Economic Department and Dubai Municipality.
Non-Muslims also have one other option: to have their wills registered through the “Wills and Probate Registry” at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) by making an appointment online, submitting all the files according to the legal process, and paying an amount of AED 10,000 for every will. An expatriate married couple also needs to have emergency funds. When the spouse dies, their joint accounts will be frozen by the bank until they get an order from the bank to release them. It is also important for the couple to have a Power of Attorney.
Any non-Muslim who has assets in Dubai can register a will even if that person is not a resident of Dubai or the UAE. It is because of the law approved by the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, in 2005 which created the Wills & Probate Registry under DIFC.