What happens if you don't have a will in Dubai? Best Will Writing Services in UAE


The importance of having a will

The importance of having a will for UAE expats

Having a will is arguably one of the most important things you can do for yourself and your family. Not only can a will legally protect your spouse, children, and assets, it can also spell out exactly how you would like things to be handled in your absence.


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Sharia Law country in respect of personal status and Inheritance. As per the UAE Law, UAE Courts will adhere to Sharia law in a situation where there is no will in place. This means if you die without a will, the local courts will distribute your estate and appoint guardians according to Sharia Law principles.


8 reasons why you should have a will in UAE:

  • Decide how your assets are distributed

  • Decide who takes care of minor children

  • Disinherit individuals who would inherit by default

  • Decide who will settle your bills and close accounts

  • Allocate gifts/ donations from your assets

  • Minimize estate taxes for your inheritors

  • Minimize future uncertainties

  • Ensure a faster probate process


What can happen if you don’t have a will upon your death in the UAE?

  • Your bank accounts will be frozen immediately (regardless of it being a joint or individual accounts)

  • A wife who has children will qualify for only 1/8th of the estate, and without a Will this distribution will be applied automatically

  • Dependent visas will be cancelled

  • Re-appropriation of assets may be unfavourable and may not stay within your immediate family

  • Custody of minor children may go to someone you don’t prefer or the local government might have to intervene

  • Life insurance claims may go into covering your liabilities or be counted as part of property to be appropriated by the Courts

  • A court case appealing the automatic appropriation can take as long as five years and result in huge legal payouts

  • If you own a business, whether this be a Free Zone Company or an LLC, in the event of a shareholder or director’s death, local probate laws apply and shares do not pass automatically by survivorship nor can a family member take over in lieu.

  • Bulk of your estates might go to extended family as per Sharia law


I do not have any assets in UAE, do I still need a will? Yes, most certainly. A will doesn't just govern the distribution of your assets, but several other factors, as mentioned above.


Although you may not find it important to secure your current situation, you do not know about your future assets, like gratuity, life insurance, compensation or insurance on the ground of unexpected way of death. A will will also secure your interest in the mode of burial, guardianship of children, etc.


How are assets distributed in UAE as per Sharia Law?

The following are a few detailed scenarios.


Scenario 1: If the deceased is survived by a mother, father, wife and three children (one son and two daughters)

  • The wife shall receive 1/8th

  • The mother and father shall get 1/6th each

After these three parties have received their respective share, the remaining wealth will be distributed among the son and daughters, with son getting the share of two daughters (i.e. a male child gets double of a female child).


Scenario 2: If the deceased man does not have child/children

  • The wife shall receive 1/4th

  • The mother shall get 1/3rd

  • The father shall get the remainder


Scenario 3: If the deceased man is survived by only mother and father

  • The mother shall get 1/3rd

  • The father shall get the remainder


Scenario 4: If the deceased man is survived by only mother and wife

  • The mother shall receive 1/3rd + R

  • The wife shall receive 1/4th + R


Scenario 5: If the deceased man is survived by daughter/s, wife, mother and father

  • The mother shall receive 1/6th

  • The wife shall receive 1/8th

  • The daughter/s shall receive half of the wealth split between all daughters

  • The father’s share will be 1/6th and the remaining amount of the wealth

Scenario 6: If the deceased man is survived by a son, wife, mother and father

  • The father shall receive 1/6th

  • The mother shall receive 1/6th

  • The wife shall receive 1/8th

  • The son gets the remaining amount


Scenario 7: If the deceased man’s parents are no more and he is survived by only wife and children. If the deceased man does not have either parents, then the wife and the children will inherit everything, assuming there is a male child.


What are the documents required for a will in Dubai?

  • Emirates ID

  • Passport

  • Relevant Asset Statements


Is there any difference in laws for Muslims and non-Muslims?

Yes. Non-Muslims can distribute 100% of their assets as per the will. Muslims can only allocate 30% of their assets to be distributed as per a will, as per their wishes. The remainder will be distributed as per the above Sharia Law allocations.


What is the difference between Mirror Wills and Single Wills in UAE?


(1) Single Will

A single Will is suitable for an individual usually for someone who is not married or whose spouse doesn't have any assets within UAE.


In a single will, you can appoint guardians for your children, make specific gifts of money or property or allocate the entire property to any person you like.


(2) Mirror Will

Mirror Wills are apt for married couples either having assets individually or in joint ownership or joint bank accounts. A mirror will may be more cost-effective than having two single wills.


Mirror Wills specify the distribution of property, guardianship of children, appointment of executors and/ or provisions for specific gifts.


What is the difference between notary public/ Dubai courts, and DIFC Wills?


(1) Notary Public Wills:

UAE courts adhere to Sharia Law in respect of the distribution of assets of a non-Muslim upon their passing. The UAE law allows the non-Muslims to choose the laws of their home country to apply to their inheritance. This is achieved via a Will.


These Wills are signed before the Notary Public (Courts) in the respective Emirates. This option is suitable for individuals having assets in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, or Umm Al-Quwain.


(2) DIFC Wills:

DIFC Wills Service Centre (formerly known as DIFC Wills & Probate Registry) has been set up specifically to cater for the requirements of non-Muslims owning assets in the United Arab Emirates. It has some advantages such as a faster probate process, but ultimately the probate process is only handled in a local court.


The final outcome via both options is not very different.


How much does a will cost in UAE? Will Writing Cost in Dubai

For further inquiries on the procedure and costs involved, contact us at communications@gulfvakil and a representative will get back within one day.

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