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Pitfalls of a (DIFC) Dubai Will (Estate Plan)

Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates that is known for its luxurious lifestyle and booming economy. Many people from around the world come to Dubai to live and work, and as such, they may decide to create a will (estate plan) while they are living here. However, creating a will in Dubai comes with its own set of pitfalls, which can lead to complications and legal issues down the road. In this article, we will explore the pitfalls of a Dubai will and what you can do to avoid them.

A proper estate plan involving multiple jurisdictions requires careful planning to ensure enforceability and tax-optimization

Lack of understanding of Islamic inheritance laws

One of the main pitfalls of a Dubai will is a lack of understanding of Islamic inheritance laws. In Dubai, the law requires that Sharia law governs the distribution of a deceased person's assets. This means that the distribution of assets must be in accordance with Islamic law, regardless of what is stated in a will. This can lead to disputes and legal battles among heirs and beneficiaries if the will does not align with Islamic inheritance laws.

The only way around Sharia law when it comes to your estate plan is to set up a Dubai DIFC will. If you reside in Dubai and only own Dubai-based assets, a DIFC will should suffice in protecting your assets.

If you live in Dubai and have possessions in Dubai, other UAE emirates, or other countries, it gets complicated. Not all countries, and not even all UAE emirates recognize your DIFC will. To make sure all your assets are covered and protected, check out our advanced international estate planning services here.

Should you live outside Dubai or the UAE, and own Dubai-based assets such as property, companies, or stocks, you will need a DIFC will as well as foreign wills may not be recognized in the UAE. To set up a DIFC will, and make sure it complies with your home country's rules, contact us.

Failure to include all assets

Another pitfall of a Dubai will is the failure to include all assets. When creating a will in Dubai, it is important to ensure that all assets, including bank accounts, properties, and investments, are included in the document. Failure to do so may result in those assets not being distributed according to the individual's wishes, or worse, ending up with the wrong people.

If not all your assets are covered by your will, your estate plan's execution may get delayed.

Ownership of property

In Dubai, many expats may own property or other assets in their home country or in other parts of the world. It is important to ensure that these assets are included in the will and that they are distributed according to the laws of the country where they are located.

Guardianship of minor children

If the individual creating the will has minor children, it is important to appoint a legal guardian in the will. This ensures that the children will be taken care of in the event of the individual's death.

Tax implications

In Dubai, there is no inheritance tax, but this may not be the case in other countries where assets are located. It is important to consider the tax implications of the distribution of assets in the will and to work with a tax professional to ensure that the distribution is done in the most tax-efficient manner possible.

Executor of the will

An executor is a person responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in the will. It is important to appoint someone who is trustworthy and capable of carrying out the duties of an executor. The appointed executor should be willing to take on this responsibility and should be aware of the specific requirements for executing a will in Dubai.

We here at The Dubai Navigator are experts at navigating inheritance laws in the UAE and all major investment destinations across the world. We can support you in developing a waterproof estate plan strategy that cost-effectively protects your assets around the world, and is fully executable once the time comes. Check out our services here.

Inadequate language in the will

The language used in a Dubai will is also critical. The will must be drafted in a clear and concise manner that leaves no room for interpretation. Any ambiguity in the language of the will may lead to disputes and legal battles among beneficiaries, resulting in costly legal fees and delays in distributing assets.

Lack of witnesses

A Dubai will must be witnessed by at least two people who are not beneficiaries under the will. Failure to have witnesses may result in the will being deemed invalid. This can create significant problems, as the deceased's assets will then be distributed according to Sharia law, which may not align with the individual's wishes.

Failure to update the will

Another pitfall of a Dubai will is the failure to update the document. Life circumstances can change, such as the birth of a child, marriage, or divorce, and these changes can impact how assets are distributed. Failure to update the will to reflect these changes can lead to unintended consequences, such as assets being distributed to the wrong person.

If you set up a Dubai will and change your country or emirate of residence, it may stop being enforceable. Expert advice is needed in those cases.

If you frequently change your country of residence, a trust or foundation may be more practical than a standard DIFC will. We can support you with those as well.

Lack of professional legal advice

Finally, one of the biggest pitfalls of a Dubai will is the lack of professional legal advice. Creating a will in Dubai can be a complex and challenging process, and it is essential to work with an experienced legal professional who can guide you through the process and ensure that the document is legally binding and enforceable.


In conclusion, creating a will in Dubai requires careful consideration of many factors, including Islamic inheritance laws, ownership of assets, tax implications, and the appointment of an executor and legal guardian. It is important to work with a qualified legal professional who can provide guidance and ensure that the will is legally binding and enforceable. By avoiding these pitfalls and taking the necessary steps to create a comprehensive and legally sound will, individuals can ensure that their wishes are carried out and their loved ones are taken care of after their passing.

We are here for you, contact us for a free consultation.

Also check out our complete guide to estate planning in the UAE and Dubai here.


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