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Registering a Will in the Abu Dhabi Courts: All you need to know

If an individual owns various properties, assets, and funds in the UAE, he may approach the Abu Dhabi Courts to prepare a Will and register it in the UAE. A will can ensure the assets to be distributed according to the testator’s wishes. Many people prefer opting for Abu Dhabi Courts to register their will for its benefits over the other courts in the UAE. All courts across the country follow the Sharia law for wills and testaments. However, this condition can be exempted in the case of wills made for non-Muslims.

A lawyer can provide will drafting services, that ensure the preparation and registration of a will in the UAE.

Read more: Obtaining probate for a will in the Abu Dhabi Courts

Benefits of registration of will in UAE Courts

  • Sharia law need not necessarily apply

In the absence of a will, if a non-Muslim passes away, the Abu Dhabi Courts will apply Sharia law on the distribution of the assets and funds. The UAE law allows an individual to register a will if they choose to apply the laws of their home country while preparing the will. This is possible if the will is legally recognized and registered with the UAE Courts.

  • Registering a will in the Abu Dhabi Courts allows you to appoint guardians for your children.

If an individual registers his will with the courts, he may be able to mention his preference about the guardianship of the child. By specifying the names of the guardians, it secures the child’s future.

  • A registered Will helps secure the bank accounts under the deceased name.

As per the law, all bank accounts of the deceased person, including joint accounts, will be frozen on the death of the deceased, until the court passes the orders to unfreeze the accounts. The frozen bank account will restrict any individual such as the spouse or children to withdraw any funds they require until the court passes the necessary orders. A registered will in the UAE may help get out of such a situation at the quickest.

  • Protects the family of the deceased

A registered will in the UAE helps to protect the family of the deceased with a quick and efficient procedure for distribution of the assets without causing inconvenience to the family.

Types of Wills under the Abu Dhabi Courts

  • Single Will

A single will is prepared for a husband or a wife providing a list of instructions related to the distribution of his/her assets and funds. The single will can be prepared by a married, single, divorced, or widowed individual.

  • Mirror Will

A mirror will include two separate wills prepared, one for the husband and the other for the wife which act like a mirror to each other. This is a common form of wills among married couples.

Guidelines for wills of Muslims in Abu Dhabi Courts

  • The Abu Dhabi Courts follow the Sharia law for wills and testaments of Muslims in the UAE.
  • The Sharia law allows only 2/3 of the estate to be distributed among the legal heirs and beneficiaries. The remaining 1/3 of the estate shall be used for charitable causes such as funeral expenses.
  • As per the Sharia law, the son may receive twice the share of the daughter.
  • If the wife passes away, the husband will get 1/4 share of the estate if they have children and 1/2 share if they had no children.
  • If the husband dies, the wife will get 1/8 share of the estate if they have children and 1/4 share if they did not have any children
  • In the absence of a will, a Muslim expat will be subject to follow the Sharia law for the distribution of the assets and guardianship of the minors will go to the eldest male member on the father’s side of the family.

Guidelines for wills of non-Muslims in Abu Dhabi Courts

  • The Abu Dhabi Courts offer a flexible approach for the non-Muslims to register their wills in the UAE.
  • In the absence of a will, the non-Muslims will also be subject to the Sharia law for the inheritance.
  • The distribution of assets under the will is not only limited to assets within the UAE, but even assets outside UAE can be protected if the Will is registered with the Abu Dhabi Wills Registry.
  • The wills registered with the Abu Dhabi Wills Registry can include the names of the guardians of minor children of the testator.
  • The testator applying for registration, the executors and guardians and the witnesses must be above the age of 21 years as per the UAE laws.
  • The testator must be present before the Notary Public If an appointed agent represents the testator, the original Power of Attorney (PoA) should be submitted. This PoA must be clear and unambiguous.
  • If any of the documents are not drafted in Arabic language, it should be translated into Arabic by a sworn official translator, followed by the signature of the Ministry of Justice.
  • The Emirates Id and Passport (original and copy) should be submitted for verification and records.
  • The documents related to the ownership of the properties may be required to submit as evidence of owning the properties being distributed under the will.
  • The government fees for registration of a will is AED 750 (excluding the typing costs). Typing services offered in the Abu Dhabi Courts is AED 50.
  • The government fees for acquiring probate of a will is AED 950 for non-Muslims.

Also read: Why Should You Register a Will In Dubai | A Guide for UAE Expatriates

Will lawyers in UAE

Registering a will in another emirate can often be considered as a difficult task. A will lawyer can assist in the entire process of drafting and registration of a will, as well as provide legal advice to individuals considering to prepare a will in the UAE.

Hassan Humaid Al Suwaidi., LL.B. is a Senior Partner in HHS Lawyers. He has 20 years of experience dealing with high-value and complex cases. Frequently featured in local and international legal directories and commended for his ability to attain favorable outcomes for clients, Hassan has been involved in some of the largest legal settlements. A major part of his work is providing expert legal advice on UAE legislation and acting for individuals and businesses during disputes and litigation.