A Will is one of the most important documents that people Will come to write in their lives as a way of ensuring they have an estate planning in place and their last wishes are adhered to by their loved ones.
A Will is a crucial document in one's life, serving as a key component of estate planning to ensure that one's final wishes are respected and carried out by their loved ones.
In the recent years, the UAE legal framework for expats living and owning assets in the UAE has drastically evolved, allowing non-Muslim expats to register Wills for the devolution of their succession (not subject to Sharia principles) either with the DIFC Wills Service Centre, the Dubai Courts or the Abu Dhabi Civil Court.
Among other advantages, having a registered Will may reduce the stress and potential disputes among your heirs by proving a roadmap on how to handle your affairs while facilitating the devolution of your assets to the beneficiaries that you have named in your Will. Without a registered Will, the probate procedure might be more time-consuming, complex, and stressful for your loved ones, increasing the potential disputes among them.
Furthermore, if you have minor children living with you in the UAE, you should consider including specific guardianship provisions in your Will to avoid any uncertainties and disputes among family members regarding the guardianship question as if there is no Will, Sharia principles could eventually apply.
The DIFC Wills Service is a joint initiative of the Government of Dubai and the DIFC Courts that gives non-Muslim expats investing and living in the UAE the option to pass on their assets as they think fit and/or appoint guardians for their children subject to DIFC rules and regulations. DIFC Wills Service and the DIFC Courts provide a modern and user-friendly system in English for inheritance and probate matters for non-Muslims expats that combines operational speed, efficiency and cost effectiveness with the certainty of judicial enforcement.
The registration of a DIFC Will usually takes place through video conference with the DIFC Wills Service. During the registration process, the testator and two witnesses (who are not named as beneficiaries in the DIFC Will) must attend the online appointment and shall sign digitally the DIFC Will before the officer shall affix the DIFC Wills Service stamp, the digital copy being the original as the DIFC Will Service does not issue hard copies.
Currently, it is possible to register five (5) different types of DIFC Wills:
to cover any and all aspects and assets. (i.e. guardianship, executor appointment, gifts, legacies, burial arrangements, devolution of the residuary estate, etc.)
Limited to guardianship provisions
up to five real estate properties within the UAE
up to five shareholdings within the UAE
up to ten bank and/or brokerage accounts registered in the UAE
Following the enactment of Abu Dhabi Law No. 14/2021 on the Civil Marriage and Its Effects in 2021, foreign testators may register a civil Will and distribute their assets in the UAE to whoever they see fit (not subject to Sharia principles). There is no different type of Wills and testators have the possibility to register tailored made Wills in English and Arabic with the Abu Dhabi Civil Court covering any and all aspects related to their succession. Currently, the registration takes place via video conferencing and witnesses are not required. Although the Abu Dhabi Civil Court has been recently formed, this option by its simplicity and costs effectiveness is gaining in popularity, the probate process being conducted in English and Arabic.
In view of the preparation of a full DIFC Will (which is the most common type of Will registered) or a Will in Abu Dhabi, the following information is usually requested:
(i.e. marital status, children, step-children, etc.)
1 to 2 working days
3 to 5 working days
1 working day According to availability of the Will service selected