How Can An Expat Make A Will In The UAE?

Will is a legal document to protect the estates and hand it over to the loved ones in case of the sudden demise of the signatory of the Will. It facilitates the distribution of assets, shares or any valuables according to one’s wishes and provides legal protection to rightfully distribute the estates and take care of any minor children in the event of any unforeseen circumstances. 

Distribution of an individual’s estate will now take place as per the laws of the country of which the individual is a citizen, instead of the UAE law (which codifies Islamic Sharia principles on inheritance). An exception to this however would still remain with respect to the UAE real estate, which shall continue to be subject to the country’s laws, unless a Will has been registered in the UAE. 

Personal Statue Law and Civil Code of the UAE has been updated in the year 2020. The changes in these laws allow the application of the local law of the home countries of the UAE resident expatriates with regard to the inheritance of their UAE estate in absence of a registered will in the UAE. 

Movable property subjected to the new laws: 

Money in bank accounts; 


End of Service and gratuity payments 

Death in Service benefit 

Company shares 


Personal possessions (such as jewellery) 

Real Estate Will registration: 

If an individual holds real estate assets in the UAE then it is important to register a UAE Will. 

The options are as follows: 

To register the will with the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.  

To register the will under the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry 

To register Will under the Notary Public 

Generally, registering a Will at the Notary is advisable as DIFC Wills can be expensive. However, Notary Wills incorporate only UAE assets, whereas DIFC Wills also incorporate non-UAE assets, making it an ideal choice for expatriates with assets across different jurisdictions. 

If the individual is non-Muslim, then the local registration of the Will make ensures the inheritance of the assets of the individual after his death and the appointment of guardians for the minor children (if any). 

The consequences of not having a will are that the guardianship of minor children may be decided by the UAE Courts as per the law. In addition to this, a family’s estate could be assigned to individuals chosen by Courts pursuant to applicable laws. As for financial assets, bank accounts in the UAE, including joint accounts are frozen upon the death of an individual. Additionally, all dependent visas are cancelled upon the death of the individual, allowing dependents a further maximum stay of one month before being required to leave the country. In this situation, a will would serve as the most efficient medium to obtain assets in a short period of time. 

Documents for the process: 

Official IDs of the two witnesses 

Your unsigned draft will 

Your Emirates ID, passport and proof of payment. 

Criteria for Will Registration: 

You are not a Muslim and have never been a Muslim (Muslims can register will in Local Court but only for 1/3rd of their assets) 

You are over 21 years of age 

You own assets within the UAE 

Any minor child for which you wish to appoint guardians must be a habitually resident in the UAE 

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