• How to register a will in the UAE

    25 Oct 2023

    Sharia principles may in certain instances apply to your belongings, including real estate assets, bank account, shares in company and any other type of assets, or the guardianship of your minor children if you have not clarified those points under a "will" registered in the United Arab Emirates. For Non-Muslim expats, the most common option are to register your will in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) or in Abu Dhabi Courts to cover those aspects.
    A "will" is a legal document that allows you to set forth your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and the care of your minor children. If you die without a will, those wishes may not be carried out. Further, your heirs may end up spending additional time, money, and emotional energy to settle your affairs after you're gone shall you fail to have a will in place to facilitate the probate procedure and the devolution of the succession to the heirs.
    In order to prepare and register your will, do not forget to choose an expert attorney to assist you with Will registration..

    Will Registration in DIFC Wills Service Centre

    For Will Registration with the DIFC Wills Services Centre, remember that:
    1. You must be a non-Muslim 
    2. You must be at least 21 years old 
    3. You should be sound of mind 
    4. You should be resident in the United Arab Emirates or have one or more assets in the UAE
    In case of minor children, they shall leave in the UAE with the testator to include guardianship provisions in the will.
    If you satisfy these introductory prerequisites, an expert attorney may assist you with the preparation and the submission of an application for Will Registration in DIFC.

    Wills Registration In Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court

    Following the enactment of Abu Dhabi Law No. 14 of 2021 and the creation of the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court, expatriates may now register civil wills in Abu Dhabi to distribute their assets as they think it fits (freedom of testation). For a civil will to be recognised as legally valid, it must be ‘registered’ with the court. Similar to the Will Registration in DIFC, the testator shall be:
    ● Not a UAE citizen
    ● Over 21 years of age.
    ● Sound of mind
    ● Resident in the UAE or have one or more assets in the UAE
    The will shall be submitted in Arabic and English languages. An expert attorney may assist you with the preparation and submission of the application along with a copy of the will in both languages.

    Various Types Of Will Registration in DIFC

    Currently, you may register five different kinds of DIFC Wills according to your own circumstances, such as:
    1. Guardianship DIFC Will
    2. Property DIFC Will
    3. Business Owners DIFC Will
    4. Financial Assets DIFC Will
    5. Full DIFC Will
    The first four are limited type of wills while the full DIFC will is the most complete and flexible solution to cover any and all aspects related to your succession.

    Full DIFC Will

    The Full DIFCl may encompass any and all your assets in the UAE and worldwide, while including guardianship provisions for your minor children. This type of will may be tailored-made to each testator through the service of an accredited DIFC draftsmen to cover all this aspects and reflect your last wishes. If you are married and both spouses wish to register a will at the same time, you may submit an application to register DIFC mirror wills and benefit from a discounted fee regarding the DIFC registration fees. 

    Guardianship DIFC Will

    Guardianship DIFC Wills enable you to assure that, in the event of your passing, your minor children will be taken care of by someone you trust who would have been named in advance in your will to undertake this mission. The choice of guardian for your kids is the sole provision that you may include in a Guardianship DIFC Will according to the DIFC Will Regulations. 

    Property DIFC Will

    Your residential or commercial real estate properties in the UAE are the only type of assets covered under a Property DIFC will. Such will may encompass up to a maximum five (5) residential or commercial properties. According to your marital status, you may consider registering DIFC mirror wills. Registration in advance screening takes place virtually. 

    Financial Assets DIFC Will

    Financial Assets DIFC Wills cover up to ten (10) distinct accounts or your share within ten (10) different accounts registered individually or jointly, as long as the financial institution(s) holding those accounts is/are in the UAE. You must be the sole legal holder of any moveable property owned by the brokerage services or banks in order to register for this type of will.

    Business Owners DIFC Will

    Business Owners Wills can encompass up to five (5) separate shareholdings in any free zone or UAE onshore company situated in the UAE. The company in which your shares are held must be incorporated in the UAE and established in accordance with UAE Federal Law and/or the rules and regulations of the corresponding free zone.

    The Importance Of Wills In UAE

    In the UAE, having a will properly registered is highly advised to protect your possessions and facilitate the probate procedure for your loved ones. Among other key elements, we may mention: 

    Appointment of Guardians For Minors

    You may appoint an interim and/or permanent guardian for your minor children. Your minor children get protection through this as if the father dies, the mother does not automatically get the guardianship of her minor children under Sharia principles.

    Beneficiaries Other Than Your Family Members

    In the event that a member of your family passes away before you, you might name substitute beneficiaries to receive your belongings. Only the individuals you name in your will shall be part of the devolution of your succession, so you do not have to worry about that.

    Property Distribution

    You may give and distribute your movable and immovable property will to the beneficiaries named in your will as you think fits.

    Quick And Simple Procedure

    Anyone might be traumatized by the demise of beloved ones. The family must incur additional costs and encounter challenges while trying to take possession of the belongings without a registered will. Courts in the UAE can move forward promptly in accordance with the testator's desires thanks to having a will registered in the UAE.

    Where And How Do Wills Work In Dubai?

    In Dubai, UAE, bank accounts, such as joint accounts, might be locked upon a person's death. But with registered wills, getting back a bank account is a simple procedure. The competent Court in the UAE can provide an inheritance certificate, which unequivocally names the heirs to the property of an individual who died. It involves all other possessions mentioned in the decedent's testament, such as end-of-service advantages.
    The guardians designated in a will shall be formally appointed as guardian of the minor children after the passing of the testator. With the administration of the probate process, which also involves paying off any outstanding debts of the testator, the executor shall transfer the belongings to the beneficiaries named in the will.

    The Expenses For Making A Will In UAE

    Several details, including whether it is a single or mirror will, affect the cost of opting for a will registration in UAE. The DIFC’s costs are of AED 10,000 for a single will and AED 15,000 for a mirror will while in Abu Dhabi, the cost is of AED 950 per will. In terms of professional fees for the preparation and registration of a simple will, including the drafting, translation (if applicable) and registration of a full tailored-made will, range between AED 6,500 and AED 8500, VAT excluded.

    The Details Usually Required For Registering A Will

    The crucial details that you are required to submit for the registration process are summarized hereafter:
    1. Your nation of origin, religious beliefs, and identity records;
    2. Details about your marriage, children, and step children;
    3. A list of your assets to be covered under your will 
    4. Executor and substitute executors (if any) and their contact details;
    5. The beneficiaries's details, including their contact details and entities under the testament;
    6. Any other gift and/or wishes to be included in your will
    7. Information on the guardian(s) (if applicable), as well as any specific instruction in relation to custody requirements
    According to the circumstances of each case, further details and clarification may be requested. 
    Bottom Line
    Preparing and applying for a will can sometimes be a stressful and distressing task to do. We advise you to make Will registration if you want to keep full authority of your belongings and real estate even after you leave this world.
    You do not have to tackle this on your own. Contact professionals who can take the burden off your shoulders and help you with the whole process. To prevent potential problems, especially if you are a non-muslim residing in the UAE, consider registering your will as soon as possible.