UAE: How can non-Muslim expats draw up a will in Dubai?

The will registered in the city would only be valid outside the country if it follows the provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law


Ashish Mehta

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Published: Sun 5 May 2024, 9:03 AM

Question: I am a non-Muslim expat living in Dubai. I have some assets in the country and wish to draw up a will. How do I go about this? What do I do after to make sure it holds in my home country too?

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Answer: Pursuant to your queries, as a non-Muslim resident of Dubai, you have multiple options to create and register a will for your assets in the UAE.

In this context, we may refer to the provisions of the following laws: (i) Federal Decree Law No. 41 of 2022 on Civil Personal Status, (ii) Law No. 15 of 2017 Concerning Administration of Estates and Implementation of Wills of non-Muslims in the Emirate of Dubai and (iii) the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry Rules.

In the UAE, a non-Muslim may apply the provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law for non-Muslims his or her personal matters. This is in accordance with Article 1(1) of the UAE Personal Status Law for non-Muslims, which states:

“The provisions of this Decree Law shall apply to non-Muslims who are national citizens of the United Arab Emirates, and to non-Muslim foreigners residing in the state, unless any of them adheres to the application of the law of their home country, with regards to the articles of marriage, divorce, inheritance, wills, and proof of parentage, without prejudice to the provisions of Articles (12), (13), (15), (16), and (17) of Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 referred to above.”

Based on the mentioned provisions of the UAE Personal Status Law for non-Muslims, a non-Muslim may also register a will as per his/her choice, This is in accordance with Article 11(1) of the UAE Personal Status Law for non-Muslims, which states:

“A legator may leave a Will with all his assets in the State to anyone of his/her choice according to the controls set out by the Implementing Regulations of this Decree Law."

In addition, the registration of wills of non-Muslim individuals in Dubai should follow the provisions of Dubai Law No. 15 of 2017, referring to the provisions of Article 3 and Article 6(a).

Article 3 of Dubai Law No. 15 of 2017 states:

“This Law will apply to all Wills and Estates of non-Muslims in the Emirate, including in the Dubai International Financial Centre.”

Meanwhile, Article 6(a) of Dubai Law No. 15 of 2017 states:

“A register known as the "Register of Wills of non-Muslims" will be created at the Dubai Courts and the DIFC Courts for the purpose of registering Wills of non-Muslims.”

Following the above provisions of the Dubai Law No 15 of 2017, a non-Muslim resident in Dubai, may register his or her will at the Dubai Courts or the DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

A will to be registered in Dubai Courts or DIFC must include the details of the executor(s) and/or beneficiaries of the testator’s properties and assets including but not limited to all of the testator’s movable and immovable properties, tangible and intangible properties. This also includes but not limited to real estate properties, shares in businesses and legal entities, bank accounts and the money kept in the bank accounts, credentials or passwords for his or her bank accounts, and other matters, jewellery, (the ‘Estate’) based in the UAE or outside the UAE.

With respect to the registration of wills at the DIFC Wills Service Centre, Article 9(1) of DIFC WPR Rules sets out the requirements for the registration of non-Muslim wills. The provisions read as follows:

"1 These Rules shall apply only to wills:

a. of non-Muslim individuals over the Age of Majority;

b. 1) that are in a form as set out in Schedule 1, in the English language, in writing;

2)witnessed by at least two witnesses of the age of majority, such persons being either physically or virtually present in front of the Registrar or an Authorised Officer at the time of witnessing;

c. signed (in person) by the Testator;

d. that appoint Executors over the Age of Majority;

e. that appoint a Guardian, if at all, for a Minor who is habitually a resident with the Testator, in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah;

f. that are deposited and (at the time of death remain) registered with the Registry; and

g. that state that the Testator intends Administration and succession to the Property dealt with by the Will to be governed by these Rules and the laws of the DIFC.”

At the DIFC Wills Service Centre, a testator may include all his estate within and outside the UAE. This is in accordance with Article 11 of the DIFC WPR Rules, which states"

“A Will may give or dispose of Immovable and Movable Property, located in any part of the world, to which the Testator is entitled at the time of his death, whether the Testator became entitled to it before or after the registration of his Will, and shall not govern succession to any other Property.”

A non-Muslim expat in the UAE may also register his/her will at the consulate or embassy of his or her own country, if such service is available.

Therefore, based on the aforementioned provisions of law, you may draw up and register your will for your Estate in the UAE before the Notary Public at the Dubai Courts, or at the DIFC Wills Service Centre. You may also register your will at the embassy or consulate of your home country, if the service is available.

Generally, a will registered in Dubai via the procedures mentioned above would be valid and binding outside the UAE. However, it may be noted that the validity and enforceability of such wills may also be subject to the laws of the other countries concerned.

It is also advised to avail independent legal advice from a legal counsel of your home country, to ensure that you're aware of the applicability of a will registered in the UAE for your estate here, as well as your home country.

This will also help you if there's any additional procedures which may be carried out to make sure that your will registered in the UAE will be valid in your home country.

Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: Readers may e-mail their questions to: or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.


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