What is an “expat will”?
An expatriate will is a will made in a jurisdiction outside of your domicile (home country). It functions the same as any will but covers the estate located in the jurisdiction where it is drawn and serves to make probate (validation of the will, identification and disposal of the estate, and payment of taxes) a straightforward affair. You can have a will in your domicile and an expat will at the same time. Multiple wills are known as concurrent wills.
What is the significance of an expat will?
UAE courts adhere to Sharia Law in respect of the distribution of assets of a non-muslim UAE expat where he or she dies without an expat will in place. In the UAE and other Islamic countries for example, this poses a significant problem. In the absence of a separate expat will covering the UAE estate, the estate, including bank accounts (even if jointly held) will be frozen until liabilities have been discharged, in accordance with Sharia law. Then, the estate will be distributed and guardians appointed for minor children according to Sharia Law, which may not protect your family in the way you’d want. Therefore it’s important for expatriates to protect your foreign assets and family through a legal, expat will.
Can I have an expat will in the UAE?
Yes, UAE law allows non-Muslims to choose the laws of their domicile to apply to their inheritance. This can be done through a clearly drafted expat will, signed before the Notary Public (Courts) in the respective Emirates.
Additionally, the DIFC Wills Service Centre has been set up specifically to cater for the requirements of non-Muslims owning assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, which is an option which will speed up probate.
What else should I consider when writing an expat will?
The process of probate is likely to be fairly quick in the presence of a duly registered expat will. However, you should consider taking steps in parallel to your expat will writing exercise to ensure that your family can continue their day-to-day affairs between the time of your passing away and issuance of the probate order by the court.
At Hoxton Capital Management, we’re experienced in assisting expatriates draw up and register wills, as well as advising on your entire estate planning. Contact us to find out more about our expat will writing services.