The UAE law has long recognised notarised wills of non-Muslims. Article 17(1) of the UAE Civil Code no 5 of 1985 provides that: ‘Inheritance shall be governed by the Law of the deceased at the time of his death’. However, article 242 of the Personal Status Law provides: ‘If the will is coupled with a condition contrary to the Islamic intents or the provisions hereof, the condition shall be void while the will will be valid.’ This has, in rare cases in the past, led to property being distributed by local courts of first instance in a manner inconsistent with the wishes of the deceased, and can lead to assets located in the UAE being frozen, and lead to protracted litigation.
For those concerned about having their will dealt with in UAE courts, there is now another option. Resolution 4 of 2014 provides for the establishment of the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (for non-Muslims). Registration of a valid will with the DIFC Registry will ensure the direct distribution of Dubai-based assets in accordance with the registered will.
Individuals need to hire a lawyer to get their will drafted and we will be happy to assist in this matter.