A UAE Will: Critical for Asset Protection and Family Well-being

July 18, 2023by Kartik Shetty0

REGISTER A WILL to Inheritance of Sons and Daughters, Loved ones, Family Protection, Estate planning, Financial security of beloved.

In the dynamic landscape of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), having an extensive and enforceable UAE Will is not just a recommendation but an absolute necessity. It is a pivotal step towards preserving your assets and securing the well-being of your loved ones. A Will, as a powerful legal document, grants you the unique ability to dictate precisely how your assets will be distributed and allows you to appoint guardians for your minor children, ensuring that your wishes are faithfully carried out. By establishing a comprehensive Will, you can prevent potential conflicts and disputes, safeguarding the harmony and unity of your family.

How to Register a Will in the UAE: Requirements and Procedures

Traditionally, asset distribution in the UAE was strictly governed by Sharia law, leaving little room for personal choices and desires. However, with the introduction of new regulations, there has been a transformative shift. Now, individuals have been granted greater freedom and autonomy to decide who should inherit their assets, empowering them to align their distribution plans with their unique values and priorities

This enlightening article underscores the critical importance of having a Will in the UAE, emphasizing the need to adapt to these transformative changes and secure the legacy you envision for your loved ones.

Why Having a Will Is Important in the UAE?


Protection of Minor Children

  1. Appointment of Guardians: With a Will, parents can name suitable guardians for their minor children. This provides stability and continuity by ensuring that the welfare and upbringing of the children are entrusted to people chosen by the parents.

Customization and Flexibility

  1. Asset Distribution: A Will allows individuals to distribute their assets as they see fit. They can consider relationships, monetary requirements, and personal preferences to allocate specific items, properties, or financial assets to particular beneficiaries.
  2. Gifts to Charities: People may include provisions in their Wills for gifts to charities that support causes they believe in. This enables them to continue making a difference and supporting charitable causes even after they pass away.


  1. Confidentiality of Assets: By establishing a Will, people can keep their wealth distribution decisions private. A Will allows for a more discreet transfer of assets to beneficiaries compared to the public nature of the probate process.

Jurisdictional Issues and International Assets

  1. Cross-Border assets: Estate planning can be challenging for expatriates and individuals with assets in multiple jurisdictions. By drafting a Will, they can specify how their assets, which are spread across several jurisdictions, should be handled. This ensures that all applicable laws are followed and helps prevent any potential problems.
  2. Choice of Law: Non-Muslim ex-pats in the UAE have the choice to submit their property-related disputes to the jurisdiction of the laws of their home country. Proper financial planning, which includes writing a Will, enables individuals to ensure that their assets are distributed according to their specified legal system.

Timely and Effective Asset Distribution

  1. Probate: Probate can be completed faster with a valid Will in place, allowing for a faster transfer of assets to beneficiaries. This helps avoid delays and makes it possible for beneficiaries to promptly receive their inheritances.

Defence Against Inheritance Issues

  1. Minimizing conflicts: A well-drafted Will can aid in keeping disputes to a minimum. By outlining their intentions and wishes in detail, a Will provides evidence of the deceased’s planned asset distribution, making it more challenging for disgruntled family members to challenge its legitimacy.
  2. Documentation: A Will acts as a legally binding statement of the decedent’s wishes. It can reduce the possibility of inheritance disputes by supporting the right distribution of assets with critical proof.

Will Registration Choices in the UAE

  • Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department has implemented a dedicated statute to address Succession and Inheritance Matters for both Non-Muslims and Muslim Expats with assets in the UAE. Non-Muslims having assets in Abu Dhabi and other Emirates are now permitted by the new rule to manage their estates in any way they deem fit. Additionally, it provides adaptable legal options.

  • DIFC

 The DIFC Wills Service Centre offers an exceptional opportunity for non-Muslims to secure all of their assets, both within and outside the UAE, by creating a comprehensive DIFC Will. This innovative service empowers non-Muslim individuals to officially submit their Wills in the English language, allowing them to exercise testamentary freedom and have complete control over how their assets are divided upon their passing, regardless of whether they are located in the UAE or abroad. It’s important to note that in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United Arab Emirates, the term “non-Muslim” refers to those who have never been Muslims, opening the door to greater asset protection and peace of mind for individuals of diverse backgrounds.

  • Dubai

Non-Muslims are permitted by the Dubai Local Courts to notarize an Arabic Will in front of a Notary Public. Non-Muslim expats with assets in the UAE may create a Will under the law of their home country to prevent Sharia-based succession laws governing their UAE estate.

The registration process in Abu Dhabi court and DIFC:

The process of registering Wills has been revolutionized with the advent of virtual registration. All Wills can now be virtually registered with the DIFC Wills Service Centre or the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department via a video conference call. Before the virtual registration appointment, during which the Authorised Officer will evaluate the Will with the person in front of the witnesses via video link and complete the registration procedures, individuals will be needed to upload all supporting documentation and photo identification.

The significance of having a Will cannot be overstated. Without one, you are essentially leaving the fate of your possessions and the well-being of your family to chance. Taking the time and effort to draft a Will and ensuring its validity is a crucial responsibility that grants you peace of mind and safeguards the future of your loved ones.

Webinar on Will Registration. Get complete info. FREE.

Essential Tips for Drafting A UAE Will

  • Get expert assistance:  Seeking professional guidance is highly advisable when drafting a Will. Engaging a lawyer’s expertise will not only help you comprehend the intricacies of the law but also ensure the legal validity of your Will, guaranteeing that it accurately reflects your desires and intentions.
  • Be accurate:  Precision is key when articulating your wishes in a Will, especially concerning the distribution of your assets. Strive to be as specific as possible to minimize the potential for conflicts among your heirs, offering clarity and guidance that can alleviate potential disputes and ensure your assets are allocated according to your exact intentions.
  • Update your will regularly:  Regularly updating your Will is crucial to align it with your changing circumstances. Life events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child necessitate amendments to ensure that your Will remains up to date and accurately reflects your current wishes. By proactively revisiting and revising your Will when necessary, you can maintain its relevance and ensure that your loved ones are provided for in accordance with your most recent circumstances and intentions.
  • Ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing is a pivotal step, and creating a Will plays a crucial role in achieving this goal. With the implementation of new regulations, having a Will becomes even more essential, particularly for individuals residing in the United Arab Emirates.

    A draftsman will need at least one or two working days for drafting a Will, and once the testator has approved the draft, the Will can be registered with the relevant authority within one week.

    There are a few other factors, in addition to those already mentioned, that contribute to the necessity of Wills in the UAE. As an expatriate residing in the UAE, it becomes important to ensure the smooth transfer of your assets to your family members in your home country. Additionally, you may also want to use your Will as a platform to express your specific preferences regarding your funeral arrangements.

    In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the significance of having a Will cannot be overstated for individuals seeking to exercise control over the distribution of their assets and ensure the well-being of their loved ones. The legal structure established by the Personal Status Law empowers individuals to establish their wishes through a valid Will, offering a profound sense of reassurance and protection. While the primary purpose of a Will is asset transfer, its value extends far beyond, encompassing considerations of privacy, family dynamics, and even business continuity.


The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the respective authors. ATB Legal does not endorse these opinions. While we make every effort to ensure the factual accuracy of the information provided in our blogs, inaccuracies may occur due to changes in the legislative landscape or human errors. It is important to note that ATB Legal does not assume any responsibility for actions taken based on the information presented in these blogs. We strongly recommend verifying information from official sources and consulting with professional advisors to ensure its accuracy and relevance to your specific circumstances.

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats.

Please feel free to reach out to us at office@atblegal.com for a non-obligatory initial consultation.

by Kartik Shetty

Kartik is a legal consultant at ATB legal, with a unique blend of skills for civil, corporate and commercial matters. He is a law graduate from Shivaji University, Mumbai and postgraduate from Pune University. He writes about family law and corporate and commercial matters.

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