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Making wills in the UAE – steps to saving your property

Оформление завещаний в ОАЭ – шаги к сбережению вашего имущества

The need for inheritance planning and probate becomes relevant already at the first steps of asset acquisition. In the UAE, this process has its own characteristics. It is important to take them into account in order to protect property and one’s own interests, because it is not uncommon for situations in which, after the onset of hereditary events, property passes to the sheikh. In this article, we will look at the basic steps of the procedure for obtaining a will in the UAE and the possibilities of minimizing legal and financial costs.

What you need to know about inheritance in the UAE

Age and religious aspects

In the UAE, you can make a will if you are 21 years old and you are not a Muslim. The inheritance laws of this country are closely related to religious norms. For example, there is only one way for Muslims to inherit – through the Sharia court. This means that in case of death, the inheritance will be distributed in accordance with the principles of Sharia. It is the latter who determine the shares of heirs based on family ties and other factors established in Islamic law. This process is subordinated to courts specialized in religious matters and usually requires appropriate legal support.

Court in the UAE

If the testator has never professed Islam, then his heirs have a choice: they can distribute the inheritance according to Sharia law or according to a new law adopted in the UAE in February 2023. It regulates inheritance for non-Muslims.

Consequences without a will

If there is no will, the property bank accounts may be blocked, the sponsorship visa may be suspended. This may affect those who are not related.

Changes in the inheritance procedure

More recently, hereditary property in the UAE was distributed in accordance with the requirements of Sharia law. However, since 2023, changes have been made to establish a new order. But the procedure for entering, i.e. receiving an inheritance, has remained the same and requires going to court.

Advantages of making a will in the UAE FEZ

Making a will

Free zones such as Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and Abu Dhabi Global Markets (DWM) use their own legislation. Wills executed in such zones are valid and apply to property not only within the country, but also abroad.

Making a will in DIFC can be carried out online with the help of expert advice. The process of signing all the necessary documents requires only the presence of the testator and two online witnesses, while it is not necessary to have a residence in the UAE.

How to make a will in the UAE

To make a will, you must specify:

  • name of the applicant;
  • the applicant’s religion;
  • names and relations with heirs;
  • address of residence in the Emirates;
  • property and the order of distribution between relatives;
  • the names of the witnesses and executors of the will.

Required documents

Documents

Copies of passports, visas of all persons specified in the will, as well as their contact details, may be required to certify a drawn-up will at the Dubai International Financial Centre. 

As you can understand, the process of transferring an inheritance and making a will requires attention to detail, as well as the right approach to choosing a place and procedure for registration. The use of free economic zones such as DIFC and ADGM can facilitate the process and ensure reliable protection of your property both inside and outside the country. 

It is important to take into account all the features of the process and contact specialists for advice, as well as support in making a will.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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