Options for non-Muslims in drawing up a will

The Notary Public at the Dubai Courts can write and attest a will for you

Image Credit: Supplied
All documents coming from abroad that are not in Arabic should have legal translations.
Gulf News

Dubai: Non-Muslim expatriates who have assets in the UAE have various options in making a will to ensure their property and children are taken care of should the worst happen.

The right of survivorship rule is not practised in the UAE unlike in many Commonwealth jurisdictions. This means assets or guardianship of children in the UAE are not automatically passed on to the surviving joint owner or spouse in the UAE if the other dies.

“If a person dies without a will, his assets will be distributed as per the default provisions of the law [Sharia, in the case of UAE]. Persons who are not considered by law to be heirs will be excluded from the distribution of assets,” Barney Almazar, a licensed UAE legal consultant and partner at Gulf Law, told Gulf News.

Almazar said by having a valid will drafted to conform both to UAE and the inheritance laws of the countries of the non-Muslim expatriates, they will be able to dictate how they would like their children’s guardianship to be assigned and their assets distributed after all liabilities are settled.

To make a will, they should start by making an inventory of their assets and consulting a lawyer who knows their country’s laws. Once a will in Arabic is drawn up (at an average cost of Dh3,500, depending on the lawyer), they can go to the Notary Public of the Dubai Courts.

A representative from the Contact Centre of the Al Barsha Branch said non-Muslims can have their will notarised by providing their original passport or national ID and original copies of proof of ownership of their assets such as real estate. The notarisation fee is Dh2,220. After this, they need to register the will with the Ministry of Justice.

Wills drawn up in non-Muslim expatriates’ home countries can be used in the UAE on certain conditions. All documents coming from abroad that are not in Arabic should have legal translations. Both English and Arabic copies should be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and by the Ministry of Justice in the UAE. “If you have an existing will, you have to ensure that the form and substance adhere to both countries’ laws. For the form, it should be duly notarised, registered in the court where the notary is registered, and authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs in their country followed by the UAE Embassy there,” Almazar said.

For the content or substance, it should contain assets in the UAE.

After that, the document has to be attested by the consulate or embassy of the non-Muslim expatriate here. Please note that not all consulates or embassies do this so check if they do so first before choosing this option.

Legal translations are also needed before the documents can be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Justice in the UAE. Attesting the will in the UAE and having it legally translated could cost less than Dh500, depending on the number of pages of the will, Almazar said.

Those who prefer wills drawn up in English may do it through duly licensed legal consultants registered with the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry. This may cost between Dh2,500 and Dh5,000 for a single will and from Dh4,000 to Dh10,000 for Mirror Wills.

Ultimately, the choice is down to the testators or the people drawing up the will. What they should remember though is to ensure that the required witnesses (according to their country’s laws) are met and they properly sign the will, no beneficiary is a witness or an executor, and no unnecessary marks are written the will, among others.


Notary Public branches - Dubai Courts

Main Office - 04 3347777

Al Twar Branch - 04 2639000 / 04 4020209

Al Barsha Branch - 04 4020333

Dubai Economic Development (DED) Branch - 04 2020150


Share your views