Last Will for Expatriates – How to secure your assets and family in the UAE


published on 2 November 2021 | reading time approx. 2 minutes


The Covid-19 pandemic pushed all of us to our boundaries and showed us how unpredictable life really can be. We therefore are ought to enjoy life, expect the unexpected and secure ourselves and our families accordingly and preventively. Covid-19 is a reminder of the fragility and unpredictability of life. Retirement plans as well as necessary precautions to secure our families are not part of our daily action plans. It is however indispensable that we do consider these topics and value them with high importance in order to minimize future risks and problems.


Our professional career as lawyers and tax advisers taught us the following over the past 9 years:

For expatriates, residing outside their native country there are many uncertainties and question that arise. This is especially the case for expatriates residing in countries with legal systems differing greatly from those of their native country. This applies and affects many German and European nationals residing in the UAE as well as in other Gulf countries. Quite regularly expatriates are completely unaware of the fact that the absence of a valid last will in the event of death in the UAE results in the application of Sharia inheritance law.


The Sharia is a code of life and the religious law of Islam, which is derived from the holy Quran and the Sunna (Way of life of Prophet Mohammed SAW) and it leads Muslims the way righteous path of life in line with Islam.

However, it becomes problematic for non-Mulims to whom Sharia law is foreign. Most confusing and troubling to expat parents is that Sharia law establishes guardianship and custody of minor children upon the death of the biological father.


The Gulf countries are Muslim countries, where Sharia las is the rightful system of law. In the past year, the UAE especially, became a melting pot of different cultures and religions. The Emirati government recognized this fact and acted accordingly upon it by introducing a so-called ‘Private Last Will’. This is intended to provide Expatriates with more transparency and security, promote investment as well as prevent future problems before the local courts.


This service allows non-Muslims greater flexibility regarding the distribution of their assets or the determination of business successions, as well as regarding the appointment of guardians for their minor children.Instead of applying Shariah law, non-Muslim Expatriates can now agree to individual provisions or regulations according to the law of their home country. The so-called last will is the most convenient way for an expatriate to regulate his/ her assets and family upon their death. It is therefore strongly recommended to draw up a solid estate plan in order to avoid difficulties and unpleasant situations for the remaining family members and business partners.


The following should be noted: the drafting of a will cannot be reduced to a one-size-fits-all approach but must be tailored to the individual needs of each individual person. All too often, incorrectly, or inadequately drafted wills are found to be invalid or even ineffective in front of local courts. This, in turn, can lead to the true intentions of the testator not being reflected accurately enough and consequently, deviating regulations being applied. Therefore, it is important to ensure the correct and detailed induvial drafting of the will by a qualified and experienced professional Attorney at Law or Tax Advisor.


The drafting of a will in the UAE gives you peace of mind knowing your assets will be distributed in your best interest and ensuring your children will be cared for by trustful people of your choice. We will be happy to assist you in drafting a will in the UAE and to provide you with relevant aspects to be considered in order to set up a legally valid last will.

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