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New Dubai law allows non-Muslims to write wills and inheritance: all you need to know

 

DUBAI – A new law gives non-Muslim expatriates in Dubai fresh legal protection to write their last will and testament regarding the distribution of their assets and properties.

The law issued on Tuesday by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, gives “clear legal framework for non-Muslims to create wills according to their wishes”.

Under the new law, non-Muslim expatriate residents in Dubai can register a will in English under internationally recognised Common Law.

“It also outlines clear legal procedures that will encourage residents to register their wills and manage their assets in Dubai, thereby creating increased confidence in Dubai’s investment landscape,” according to an official statement.

The new law applies in both Dubai Courts and Dubai International Financial Centre Courts.

The law also spells out “the liabilities and obligations of the beneficiaries of wills, the responsibilities and limitations of will executors, the regulations governing inheritance and the distribution and management of the estate as well as appeal procedures.”

Disputes arising from wills and probate for non-Muslims will be adjudicated by Dubai Courts or DIFC Courts, depending on the place where the wills are registered, the government said.

“Any non-Muslim wills registered at Dubai Courts or DIFC Courts prior to the law will remain valid. The law annuls any other legislation that challenges or contradicts its articles and is valid from the date of publication and will be published in the Official Gazette.”

The right of survivorship, where assets are passed on to the surviving joint owner upon the death of the other, does not apply in the UAE.

How to register a will in the UAE for non-Muslims

1. Let a lawyer draft a will according to the expatriates’ national laws.

2. Get the will notarised by the testator’s embassy and then attested at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the UAE. The will can also be attested at the Notary Public of the Dubai Courts. Cost: Dh2,250.

3. Wills may also be written in English by duly licensed legal consultants registered with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Wills and Probate Registry. Cost: Dh2,500 to Dh5,000 (single will) and Dh4,000 to Dh10,000 (mirror wills).

In Abu Dhabi, the creation of a non-Muslim will registry was announced in May.

For Muslims, the Sharia law automatically applies to distribute assets to predetermined beneficiaries. DAJ/Expat Media

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