All matters of family law, from divorce and child custody cases through to wills and inheritance, are generally dealt with under Shariah (Islamic) law or by the laws of your home country. In any instance it is best to contact your embassy for an approved list of law firms to assist you, and then deal with a company that is familiar with both the law in your home country and here in Dubai.
It is essential that you have a will in place, and it’s especially important to seek legal advice if you become a property owner in Dubai. That’s because, under Shariah law, the rules for who inherits property after someone’s death differ from those in other countries. For example, in the event of your death, it may be that your sons (or brother, if you don’t have any sons) are first in line for inheritance and your wife could end up with nothing.
The UAE does claim to guarantee a woman’s right to inherit property, but it’s worth making your will watertight to this. Also, if a family member dies, the government can freeze his/her accounts until all liabilities of your husband are cleared such as loans, credit cards and business debts; this can happen very quickly but can easily be overturned if a UAE will is in place. Providing each other with a ‘Power of Attorney’ document in addition to a will is also recommended to prevent this.
A Dubai-based lawyer can assist you with a locally viable will (do check that they are authorised by the government to write wills), or contact The Wills Specialists (willsuae.com
), or Just Wills (just-wills.net
), part of a UK-based estate planning organisation with a UAE presence.
Making A Will
Firstly, make an appointment with a licensed estate planner, preferably one with knowledge of the law of your home country; you’ll need passport copies, contact details of executors and proof of assets. A will can be drawn up, and needs to be attested at your embassy or consulate. Have this attested document translated at an authorised typing centre, and then attested by a notary public in the emirate you live in.