If you have children under the age of 21 in the UAE, it is essential to make a Will and appoint Guardians. We recommend that you appoint permanent guardians in your home country and appoint temporary guardians locally in UAE to look after the well-being of your minor children until such time as the appointed permanent guardians are able to arrive in the UAE and assume their role.
The bank will, as a matter of practice, freeze the bank account of the deceased immediately after being informed of the death regardless of whether it is a sole or joint bank account. The bank account shall remain frozen until the deceased’s beneficiaries provide an official inheritance certificate to the bank.
The deceased’s share of the money in a joint account is also regarded as a part of the estate and will be divided among the heirs according to the provisions of the law applicable to the estate, which may or may not be Shariah, depending on the nationality of the deceased. Based on the declaration of the court, the beneficiaries may access the account to the extent of their legal share in the deceased’s estate (as sanctioned by the court), unless any beneficiary is authorised by the other beneficiaries to withdraw more than his share.
Yes, it is highly recommended to make a Will if you have real estate property in the UAE so as to ensure your property is distributed to your heirs in accordance with your wishes. If you have property and/or other assets in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah it is recommended to obtain a DIFC Will to provide the certainty required for inheritance purposes.
Any assets of the deceased including Real Estate remain frozen until a Court order is obtained. The uncertainty around real property in the UAE arises from Article 17(1) of the Civil Code which states “inheritance shall be governed by the law of the deceased at the time of his death”. However, Article 17(5) of the Civil Code says UAE law “shall apply to Wills made by aliens disposing of their real property located in the state.” This opens up the question of how a UAE Judge might interpret the law and specifically the question of real estate in a non-Muslim’s Will. An element of discretion creeps into the decision making of the Judge because principles of Shariah Law underpin UAE law.
Having a Will in place does help in relation to real estate (UAE Judges do follow the wishes of the deceased in the Will on a case by case basis) but, as stated, this aspect of the deceased’s estate is commonly decided according to the wide discretion of the UAE Judge when the Will is presented for issuance of a Succession Certificate.
For the above reasons, a DIFC Will is highly recommended for any one owning Real Property in the Emirate of Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah only. Please refer to our section on DIFC Wills & Probate Registry. In essence the benefits of a DIFC Will include:
- Jurisdiction remains under the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority which enshrines common law principles including the principle of freedom of testamentary disposition (i.e. as per testator’s wishes).
- A DIFC Will ensures that Shariah Laws shall not be considered in the distribution of assets including real property in the emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah;
- Where a testator elects this option, upon death, the appointed executor under a DIFC Will is able to apply for a grant of probate from the DIFC Court, which once issued is enforceable in onshore Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah without the need for further action through the local Courts.
Yes, a Will may be amended or withdrawn. Wills are regarded as “voluntary contracts” and in that they may be withdrawn as long as the testator is alive and retains full legal capacity.
No, there are currently no inheritance taxes under UAE law. However, certain fees and charges may apply to situations where the estate includes assets such as property or shares in a limited liability company.
Where a beneficiary predeceases you, their legacy or gift will usually fall back into your residuary estate unless you have made provision in the Will for another person to receive the legacy.
Once your instructions have been received, we aim to send the first draft of your Will within 7 working days.
Yes, of course, provided the testator is of sound mind.