Is will registration mandatory in the UAE? What is the law if expatriates own immovable assets are in the country and wish to make a will?
Pursuant to the queries, the provisions of Federal Law no. 28 of 2005 related to Personal Status (the 'Personal Status Law of UAE'), the provisions of Law No. 14 of 2021 on Personal status for Non-Muslim Foreigners in Emirate of Abu Dhabi (the 'Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims') the provisions of Law No. 15 of 2017 Concerning Administration of Estates and Implementation of Wills of Non-Muslims in the Emirate of Dubai (the 'Dubai Wills Law') and the provisions of DIFC Wills and Probate Registry Rules (the 'DIFC WPR Rules') are applicable.
Registration of will is not mandatory in the UAE. However, it will be prudent for expatriates residing in the UAE or those who own immovable/movable property/ies in the UAE to register a will pertaining to their movable and or immovable assets, including property/ies, investment/s and bank account/s in the UAE to avoid legal complications which the legal heirs may face on the death of a testator i.e. the person who grants the will.
In the event of death of an individual intestate (without registering a Will), the movable/immovable property/ies, investment/s and the bank account/s in the UAE of such deceased individual will be distributed to his or her legal heirs as per the provisions laid down in Personal Status Law of UAE. and in accordance with provisions of Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims for the non-Muslim residents of Abu Dhabi.
In the UAE, an expatriate who is a Muslim may register a will related to his or her movable/immovable property/ies, investment/s and/or bank account(s) with the relevant court which has jurisdiction in the UAE in accordance with the principles of Sharia. Similarly, a non-Muslim who owns a movable and or immovable assets, may register a Will in favour of his or her legal heirs or whomsoever he or she intends to nominate, with the concerned Court which has jurisdiction in each emirate of UAE or with relevant authorities in the UAE.
Article 11(1) of the Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims, states that," A foreigner (non-Muslim) may leave a Will with all his assets in the UAE to any person of his/her choice." Further, Article 13 of the Abu Dhabi Personal Status Law for Non-Muslims mentions with regards to registration of the Will with Abu Dhabi Judicial Department.
Article 6(a) of Dubai Wills Law, states that , "A register known as the 'Register of Wills of non-Muslims' has been created at the Dubai Courts and at the DIFC Courts for the purpose of registering Wills of non-Muslims."
A non-Muslim in the UAE may also register his or her will in accordance with the provisions of DIFC WPR Rules.
Based on the aforementioned provisions of law, a non-Muslim expatriate in the UAE may register his or her will with the court which has jurisdiction in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (applicable only to Abu Dhabi residents), Notary Public - Dubai Court or DIFC Wills Service Centre of DIFC Court. A Muslim expatriate in the UAE may register his or her will with the relevant court which has jurisdiction in the UAE in accordance with the principles of Sharia.
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