New Year, New Will

We have received a significant number of enquiries from individuals and families who have recently moved to the UAE in order to set up a new business or start a new job. Many of these clients already have Wills and now wish to enquire whether a UAE Will is a) possible and b) necessary.

In this article, we will answer the most commonly asked questions relating to Wills and UAE Inheritance laws.

I have a Will in my home country, do I need a new Will here?

If you have minor children who are relocating with you to the UAE then it is advisable for you to put a UAE Will in place to cover both temporary and permanent guardianship for children under the age of 21.

If you are intending on owning any assets in the UAE then a UAE Will is advisable to ensure these assets pass in accordance with your wishes, in the event of your death.

A UAE Will can cover both guardianship and assets.

I am renting an apartment and leasing my car and I don’t have any children, do I still need a UAE Will?

If you are employed, it is likely you will have opened a local bank account for payment of your salary. In the event of death, this bank account would form part of your UAE-based estate. Similarly, if you are accruing a gratuity payment through your employment contract, this too would form part of your UAE-based estate and would generally require a Will to govern how it is distributed in the event of your death.

If you are not employed but have set up your own onshore or offshore company in the UAE, your shares of the company would also form part on your UAE-based estate on death and a UAE Will would govern succession of the shares in the event of your death.

I have bought a property in the UAE jointly with my spouse, surely this will automatically go to my spouse if I die?

Jointly owned assets do not automatically pass to the surviving joint owner in the UAE; this applies to both real estate and local bank accounts. The deceased’s half share in the asset would be transferred in accordance with a valid Will and the survivor’s half share would remain in their legal ownership.

What happens to my UAE assets if do not have a UAE Will?

If you own real estate in the UAE, this would be distributed in accordance with default local laws which are based on the Islamic system of inheritance.

For non-real estate assets, it is possible to apply your foreign Will (if it is appropriately drafted), however the process to apply a non-UAE Will for UAE-based assets is lengthy and costly and could therefore adversely impact your surviving loved ones. It is therefore advisable to put a separate UAE Will in place for UAE-based assets.

For further information and guidance, please contact us.