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Estate Planning in the UAE: A Comprehensive Guide to Wills Drafting for Expats

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Estate planning is an essential process for expatriates residing in the UAE, ensuring that their assets are protected and their loved ones cared for in the event of their passing. Considering the intricacies of the UAE’s inheritance laws, coupled with the unique challenges faced by expats, the importance of a well-drafted will cannot be overstated. This comprehensive guide aims to provide invaluable insights into the process of wills drafting for expats in the UAE and demonstrate how Al Kabban & Associates expertise can help you navigate this complex legal landscape. From understanding UAE inheritance laws to registering wills with the appropriate authorities, we cover critical aspects that will enable you to make informed decisions and secure your family’s financial future. Trust Al Kabban & Associates to provide the support and knowledge you need for a sound estate planning strategy in the UAE.

Understanding the Significance of Wills for Expats in the UAE

For expatriates living in the UAE, having a legally valid will is crucial to protect their assets and ensure the desired distribution of their estate upon their demise. Without one, inheritance procedures can be complicated and time-consuming, leaving families and loved ones in distress. A comprehensive understanding of the UAE’s inheritance laws, along with expert guidance from a reputable firm like Al Kabban & Associates, can help expats protect their assets and secure a stable future for their families.

UAE’s Inheritance Law: Implications for Expats’ Wills

The inheritance laws in the UAE differ significantly from Western countries, with Sharia law governing asset distribution in the absence of a legally valid will. As per UAE law, non-Muslims are allowed to draft and register wills based on their own country’s inheritance laws, ensuring fair distribution of assets according to their wishes. However, if a will is not in place, the default Sharia proceedings may result in an undesired allocation of the expatriate’s estate.

To circumvent these issues, expats should familiarize themselves with the following aspects of the UAE inheritance laws:

Applicable Jurisdiction

The UAE Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 – Civil Transactions Law – outlines that the law of the deceased’s home country applies to their property-related matters, with the exception of real estate located in the UAE, which falls under the Emirates’ local laws. Expats should be aware that their estate may be subject to multiple legal jurisdictions.

The Guardianship of Minor Children

If expats have minor children, it is crucial to appoint a legal guardian in the will. Without a designated guardian, the custody of minor children may default to the closest paternal member, regardless of the expatriate parents’ intentions.

Drafting a Will in the UAE: Key Considerations

There are various points to consider when drafting a will in the UAE. Engaging with a reputable law firm like Al Kabban & Associates for guidance can ensure a smooth and legally compliant process:

1. Format and Execution

The will must be in writing, and it is best practice to draft one in both English and Arabic to avoid confusion during the probate process. Each page should be signed by the testator, and the will must be notarised.

2. Choosing a Legal Framework

Expats have two main legal frameworks for their wills in the UAE: the local courts or the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The DIFC provides an alternative jurisdiction through the DIFC Wills Service Centre, which allows non-Muslims to register a will according to the principles of English common law.

3. Appointing Executors and Trustees

Appropriate executors and trustees should be named in the will. Executors ensure the will’s proper fulfillment and administration, overseeing the testamentary disposition of the estate. Trustees, on the other hand, manage trust funds or assets on behalf of the beneficiaries.

4. Estate Distribution

Clearly outline the distribution of assets and ensure it adheres to the inheritance laws of the expatriate’s home country or their chosen legal jurisdiction.

Registering Wills with the Relevant Authorities

For a will to be legally valid in the UAE, it must be registered with the appropriate authorities. Expats can register their wills with one of the following:

– Notary Public at their local Emirate

– DIFC Wills Service Centre, offering an English common law framework for non-Muslim expats

Al Kabban & Associates can assist with not only drafting but also registering wills with the relevant authorities, ensuring compliance with local regulations.

Updating and Amending Wills

It is essential to periodically review and update your will, reflecting changes such as marriage, divorce, the birth of children, or significant alterations in assets or financial circumstances. Al Kabban & Associates can guide clients through the process of amending and re-registering wills based on these life changes.

Probate Process in the UAE

Upon the death of an expat testator, their UAE-based assets and accounts are typically frozen until the required legal documentation, including a court order, is produced. Engaging with a law firm such as Al Kabban & Associates during the probate process can help navigate the complexities, liaise with local authorities, and facilitate the release and distribution of assets as per the will’s provisions.

Ultimately, estate planning and wills drafting are essential for expats living in the UAE, ensuring that their assets are safeguarded and their families are provided for according to their intentions. A well-crafted will can prevent unnecessary complications and unintended consequences arising from Sharia-based inheritance laws defaulting in the absence of a will. By partnering with Al Kabban & Associates, expats can take advantage of their vast experience and proficiency in UAE inheritance laws to ensure a secure estate plan tailored to their unique circumstances.

Secure Your Legacy with Al Kabban & Associates

Estate planning plays a crucial role in providing peace of mind for expats residing in the UAE. By drafting a well-crafted will according to the legal requirements, you can ensure the safeguarding of your assets and the well-being of your family. Al Kabban & Associates team of skilled professionals possesses the necessary expertise and in-depth knowledge of UAE inheritance laws, enabling them to assist clients in drafting, registering, and updating wills as per their desires and current legal frameworks. 

Don’t leave your legacy to chance – partner with Al Kabban & Associates to navigate the complexities of wills drafting and estate planning in the UAE, and secure a bright future for your loved ones. Contact Al Kabban & Associates, the best lawyers in Dubai, today to schedule a consultation and embark on your journey towards a secure estate plan.


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