Asset protection in the United Arab Emirates using a will when immigrating in the UAE

When immigrating in the Arab Emirates, expats who are not Muslim need to properly elaborate the issue of asset protection and inheritance in case of premature death, and also to make a plan of actions in occurrence of such an unpleasant event. With this article we advise you on how to solve the issues by composing a will.

What should one know about inheritance laws when immigrating in the UAE

Let’s say, an expat in the UAE who is not Muslim executed a will in his country of origin, which covers his assets there. Nevertheless, most regrettably is that inheritance laws in the country of origin will not be applied to assets in the Arab Emirates while there had not been executed a will recognized by the legislation of the UAE.

In the Arab Emirates issues related to wills and other personal concerns are regulated by the Federal Law № 28 dated 2005, which is known as the Law on The Personal Status based on principles of the Islamic law.

This law covers all residents of the emirates belonging to different religions, and allows non-Muslim expats living in the territory of the country taking decision on whether laws of their country of origin will be applied concerning private issues.

According to the Civil Code, inheritance should be based on the laws of country of origin of a testator, which are applicable at the moment of his/her death.

If an expat dies without leaving a will, then local courts will apply the Law on The Personal Status and the Civil Code when distributing assets.

Meanwhile, in certain cases courts may will apply principles of the Shariah law to the property of non-Muslim expats, i.e. there will be applied mandatory rules for distribution of property among members of their families.

What is the need of executing a will when immigrating to the Arab Emirates?

A will is not an important issue for many non-Muslim expats in the Arab Emirates, as most of them plan to leave the UAE for their motherlands after pension assignment or expiry of a hire agreement. Still, expats who do not want the inheritance laws of the UAE were applied to their assets in case of their premature death can compose a will. Besides, it should be noted that the inheritance laws of the emirates can also influence the issues of patronage over children, if they are underage.

What can be the consequences for the family of the expat if he/she dies without leaving a will after having immigrated in the emirates?

What happens in case of death of an expat who had not composed a will?

  • All bank accounts will be immediately frozen for satisfaction of potential or existing obligations. Accounts will be frozen regardless of whether these are personal or joint.
  • All dependant visas will be cancelled (visa for driver, maid, family members, etc.), patronage over children can pass to a person who was not assigned as a potential guardian by a deceased expat. The local government may interfere in the process of selecting a guardian.
  • Payment on life insurance can be forwarded to covering obligations in the Arab Emirates or can be included in the property expropriated by courts. Appealing in a court against automatic expropriation of assets of a deceased expat can result in big expenditures and take many years.
  • Under the local legislation the main part of the property, instead of passing to a spouse and children of an expat, can be distributed among a wide circle of relatives and family members.

Planning of the family future – the core of success for the expat who immigrates in the Arab Emirates

To avoid an unexpected distribution of assets of an expat immediately after his/her death, an expat should first regularly inform the nearest members of family (spouse, parents) on his/her obligations and assets.

Besides, for understating the general financial state of an expat an executor will need a list of assets, which should state:

  • assets;
  • data on life insurance;
  • labor rewards.

When composing a will, we recommend using services of specialists to obtain the top-quality verification, processing, and registration of documents for a will.

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Where and how can an expat register a will when immigrating in the UAE? Cost of registration of a will

In Dubai, a non-Muslim expat can register a will in the Register of Wills DIFC (for assets in Dubai) or in “Courts of Dubai”.

A developed will of an expat must pass verification of specialists, as improperly composed will might block his assets for a continuous period of time in legal battles leading to extra stress among his closest family members. As a rule, price for this service starts from 2 thousand dirham (545 dollars) to 6 thousand dirham (1,635 dollars).

It should also be mentioned that the Register of Wills DIFC does not deal with composition of wills; therefore, you should address them with a will already prepared for registration.

All the documents submitted to “Courts of Abu Dhabi” or “Courts of Dubai” should be translated into Arabian language in a certified translation legal center, which should be registered in the Ministry of Justice and in courts. Translations can cost up to 1,500 dirham (approx. 400 dollars) per will.

Documents for the Register of Wills DIFC should not be translated into Arabian. The entire procedure of registration can be executed in English. Important! Please keep in mind that if a case develops to submission of a will to local courts for enforcement, then a court will require version of documents translated into Arabian.

Provisions of a will (on property, bank accounts, patronage, etc.) are applied in every emirate during enforcement of a will. Registration of a will in the register of Wills “DIFC” limits the scope of validity with only the emirate of Dubai.

The cost of registration of a will in “Courts of Dubai” is approximately 2,200 dirham (600 dollars) per each will; the cost of registration of a will in the register of Wills “DIFC” can be more than 10 thousand dirham (2,730 dollars).

Moreover, a will can also be registered in the Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi – the cost of registration of a will here makes up to 750 dirham (approximately 200 dollars).

Is it possible to issue a power of attorney for assets when immigrating in the UAE?

An expat who is not Muslim may issue for his/her spouse a power of attorney that provides a full legal control over assets during life. Still, all agreements in a power of attorney will be invalid after verification of the fact of death. Such a power of attorney is not enough to protect the interests of the expat’s family after his/her death.

The cost of execution of such power of attorney is from 1 thousand dirham (273 dollars) to 2 thousand dirham (545 dollars). The cost of registration of a power of attorney is approximately 270 dirham (approx. 70 dollars).

What should one know about inheritance in the country of origin when immigrating in the emirates?

After notarization of a will and registration in “Courts of Abu Dhabi” and “Courts of Dubai”, there is no need to submit anything in your own consulate or embassy. Nevertheless, assets in the country of origin are subject to local rules and regulations. To clarify issues related to these you need to contact your embassy.

Who can be assigned an executor of a will after immigration in the Arab Emirates?

As an executor of a will an expat may assign a spouse or a close relative (sister, brother, child) older than 21 years. Of course you should only assign a person who deserves your trust and can solve the issues in good faith.

For an expat-resident who is not Muslim composing a will is a reasonable step to protect his family and fulfill his own wishes regarding distribution of assets after his death.

If you plan to immigrate in the United Arab Emirates, our specialists may help in obtaining a resident visa for you and your family members.

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Obtaining investor resident visa in the UAE

General characteristics of an investor visa of the Arab Emirates
How to obtain a visa UAE for an investor? Registration of a company in the territory of any free zone
Opening a company outside the territories of free trade zones
Is it necessary to make investments to obtain an investor visa UAE? Investment is not necessary
Validity term of visa UAE for an investor Three years
Requirements to prolongation of an investor resident visa UAE An investor visa UAE is issued for 3 years with an option of prolongation for next 3 years any number of times. An owner has to arrive to the emirates every 180 days. It is necessary to pay annual fees for prolongation of an established company, through which a visa UAE was issued.

The procedure of submission and collection of necessary documents for execution of a visa is quite complicated. Feel free to contact us at: [email protected] to get advised on this issue and obtain support during preparation of necessary documents.