Why You Still Need a Will in the UAE even if You Have Nominees

how to make a will in uae

One of the most important qualities of a good business owner is the ability to plan for the future. It’s also essential to plan for untimely events to ensure that all matters are handled and passed on to the right beneficiaries. For expatriates living abroad, this matter is even more important. Creating a will that is legal in the UAE and your home country, even if you have nominees, is a must-do for expatriates. 

Why is having a will in the UAE important? 

When an expat passes away in the UAE, Emirate courts take over the administration and handling of the will. After changes to the law in November 2020, expatriates’ wills from their home countries are considered valid, as long as they have been legally recognised in the UAE. If the expatriate does not have a will, Sharia Law applies, which dictates the percentage of shares that each heir receives. If the expatriate does have a registered will, they are allowed to opt out of Sharia Law and choose their own beneficiaries. This is why it is so important that expatriates have wills from their home countries that are valid and approved in the UAE. In this article, we’ll discuss how to have a legal will in the UAE that protects all shares and proposed beneficiaries. 

There are other things to consider as well when deciding whether or not to have a will in the UAE:

  • Legal Guardians for Children: it is imperative that a legal guardian is designated for children under 21 as wives are not the automatic guardian of children in the case of the husband’s death.

  • Alternate Beneficiaries: UAE inheritance law favours family members, so if the beneficiary/ies of choice are not family members, a will can guarantee the shares or estate are passed to the designated beneficiaries. In addition, in the case that the family predeceases the expatriate, it’s important to have other beneficiaries. 

  • Real Estate: although new laws help expatriates use their wills from their home countries, real estate property can only be passed to beneficiaries that are designated in a UAE-approved will. 

  • Simplifying the Process: any expatriate knows that it’s tough to fully understand the rules and regulations of their chosen country, so it’s important to simplify the process as much as possible to ensure that there are no misunderstandings or problems. 


What is the difference between a will and nominee services?

Nominee services in the UAE serve to ensure that when the beneficial owner of the company is not in the UAE and his/her physical presence is required for business matters, a designated partner can step in and fulfill those duties. A will, on the other hand, lays out the wishes of the person for after his/her death. Even if you have nominee services in place for your company, a UAE-validated will is still essential. 


nominee services dubai

How is a UAE will implemented? 

Upon the death of a person, all bank accounts, including joint bank accounts, are frozen. With a will, the process of distributing assets is fairly simple and quick and Dubai’s courts will handle it. 

Who can draft a will in the UAE?

Any non-Muslim resident over the age of 21 with either children below 21 years of age or movable or immovable assets in the UAE can draft a will. 

Where can you register a will in the UAE?

Wills can be registered at Dubai courts or the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Wills Service Centre. DIFC caters to expatriates and provides English-language wills. 

How do I make a will in the UAE? 

  1. Find proper specialists that are experts in inheritance law to ensure that your wishes are property respected. 

  2. If you are registering your will at Dubai courts, it must have a legal Arabic translation. Wills registered at the DIFC Wills Service Center are permitted to be in English.

  3. Register the will in Dubai Courts or at the DIFC Wills Service Center


will registration in uae

At Europe Emirates Group, we are happy to help you create your will or register your existing will with the UAE. We work with the joint initiative of the Government of Dubai and the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority, the DIFC Wills Service Centre, to ensure that your assets are distributed as you see fit.


​​​​​​​Written by
Adrian Oton
Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group

Business Formation
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