The right answer to this question is to ensure that you have a registered will at hand so that your wishes are protected as per the UAE inheritance law. This is the simplest way for an expat to ensure that their assets are dealt with as per their express intent in their country of residence of the UAE.
Pursuant to the latest amendments made to the inheritance laws in the UAE, it is now possible for expats to apply the law of their home country for inheritance matters, including specifying the choice of law as part of their will. In the instance wherein no will have been created or registered, the laws of the deceased nationality will apply. This should not be understood in a way that reduces the importance of having a registered will in place. In this article, we would like to guide you on the major reasons why it is important that you have a registered will in place while residing in the UAE.
Prior to these amendments, in the absence of a registered 'Will', the UAE courts used to apply the principles of Sharia succession to decide inheritance matters. This led to the potential conflict between the actual intention of the deceased and the ultimate division of the property pursuant to the Sharia principles. Now with the new changes, these issues have been overcome to a certain extent. However, for a variety of reasons, it is still critical that a legal complaint 'will' be created and registered in the UAE.
When a will is registered in the UAE, it allows the testator of will to have peace of mind, and it ensures a smooth transaction as opposed to ambiguity. In the absence of the same, the following undesirable process may apply by default:
- Possibility of immediate freezing of the bank accounts, whether it be a joint bank account or an individual bank account.
- Possibility of freezing of investments made in the UAE.
- Possibility of a facing a prolonged and costly litigation process if the assets are disputed amongst family members.
Therefore, it is always advisable to have a registered will in place in the UAE, especially when you hold assets in the UAE. It is also advisable to note that, when an expatriate owns real estate property in the UAE, the UAE law will still apply irrespective of the national law of the ex-pat, and therefore, it is highly recommendable to take this into consideration while drafting a will. The latest amendments made in the UAE laws have brought in much clarity to issues of conflict of laws as were being experienced previously. This has been a very welcome change and provides peace of mind to the millions of expats who call UAE their home, who can see the application of the laws of their home country as opposed to an automatic application of the Sharia principles.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.