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Civil Will for Muslims in the UAE: What You Must Know

In a significant move towards accommodating the diverse needs of its Muslim residents, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has introduced the concept of Civil Wills. These Wills, governed by Law No. 14 of 2021 Concerning Civil Marriages and its Effects in the Emirates of Abu Dhabi, allow Muslims in the UAE to register Wills that are not subject to the principles of Shariah. This landmark decision provides individuals with the freedom to plan their inheritance according to their personal preferences, while adhering to the legal framework established by the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD).

This article provides essential information about Civil Will for Muslims in the UAE that everyone should know.

Understanding Civil Wills

A Civil Will, as defined by Article 1 of Law No. 14 of 2021, is a document prepared by an expatriate, irrespective of their religion, specifying how they want their assets to be distributed after their demise. This legal instrument provides individuals with the freedom to plan their inheritance according to their preferences, ensuring their estate is handled in a manner aligned with their wishes.

Scope and Availability

The availability of Civil Wills is not limited to Abu Dhabi residents; it extends to all Muslims residing in the UAE. This inclusive approach ensures that individuals across the country can benefit from this progressive legislation. Importantly, Civil Wills are available for all Muslims in the UAE, regardless of their residency location, as long as they are not UAE citizens. This initiative highlights the UAE’s commitment to fostering a legal environment that respects and accommodates the diverse cultural and religious backgrounds of its residents.

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Civil Will for Muslims in the UAE:

Muslim individuals who are not UAE citizens, irrespective of their nationality, have the opportunity to register a Will with the Abu Dhabi Civil Wills Office

Importance of Registering a Will

The significance of registering a Will cannot be overstated. A registered will guarantees that an individual’s UAE estate will be distributed according to their wishes after their passing. In contrast, the absence of a registered Will can lead to delays in the estate distribution process, potentially causing discord among family members. By taking the proactive step of registering a Will, individuals can enjoy peace of mind, knowing that their assets will be managed and divided in line with their intentions.

Intestate Succession and the Implications

If a non-UAE resident passes away without a registered Will, Article 11 (2) of Law No. 14 of 2021 outlines the default method for asset distribution. In such cases, the surviving spouse is entitled to receive half of the inheritance, while the remaining half is distributed equally among the children, without any distinction based on gender. If the deceased has no children, the inheritance is shared equally between the parents. If one parent has already passed away, the remaining parent retains their half share, with the other half distributed equally among the deceased’s siblings. In the absence of surviving parents, the siblings inherit the estate equally, regardless of gender.

Cost of Registering a Will

Registering a Will with the ADJD Civil Wills Office incurs a fee of 950 AED. This nominal fee is a worthwhile investment considering the peace of mind and clarity it provides in terms of asset distribution.

Registration Process

To register a Civil Will, applicants can utilize the ADJD portal, accessible through the U.A.E. Pass, under the Civil Family Court e-Services. The registration process requires the submission of an application along with the necessary supporting documents under the “Request to Authenticate a Civil Will” category. The ADJD has streamlined the process, ensuring ease of access for individuals who wish to exercise their right to create a Civil Will.

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Benefits of Civil Wills

  1. Personalized Inheritance Planning: Civil Wills empower individuals to structure their inheritance according to their personal wishes and familial circumstances. This flexibility allows for tailored solutions that may better reflect an individual’s preferences and vision for the distribution of their assets. By providing an alternative to Shariah-based inheritance rules, the UAE recognizes the importance of autonomy and personal choice in matters of estate planning.
  2. Certainty and Avoidance of Disputes: Civil Wills offer a clear and unambiguous framework for asset distribution. By explicitly outlining the distribution of assets and designating beneficiaries, potential conflicts and disputes among family members can be minimized. The ability to exercise control over one’s estate ensures that the intentions of the testator are respected and carried out in accordance with their wishes.
  3. Comprehensive Asset Coverage: Civil Wills provide individuals with the opportunity to include all types of assets within their testamentary disposition. This includes properties, investments, bank accounts, personal belongings, and any other assets owned by the testator. The broad scope of Civil Wills allows for a comprehensive approach to estate planning, ensuring that no asset is left unaccounted for.
  4. Protection of Minor Beneficiaries: Civil Wills enable individuals to establish guardianship provisions for their minor children, ensuring their well-being and financial security in the event of the testator’s demise. By stipulating the appointment of guardians and setting up trust arrangements, parents can secure the future of their children and mitigate potential challenges that may arise in their absence.

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HHS Civil Will drafting Lawyers in Dubai UAE

HHS Lawyers, a prominent law firm in Dubai, specializes in assisting Muslims in the drafting of Civil Wills. By paying attention to family structure, specific assets, and distribution plans, HHS Will drafting Lawyers creates personalized and comprehensive Civil Wills. Moreover, HHS Lawyers is well-versed in the legal formalities required for a Will to be legally valid. They guide clients through the process, ensuring that all necessary legal requirements are met, and assist with the registration of the Will when necessary. With their expertise and dedication to providing top-notch legal services, HHS Lawyers offers valuable assistance to Muslims in Dubai seeking to draft Civil Wills that align with their religious beliefs and protect their assets for future generations

Hazim Darwish

Hazim Darwish, is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.