What is the most critical issue when a non-Muslim expat dies intestate in UAE, other than the distribution of his assets?

It is the guardianship of his minor children.

Be aware, that when one passes away intestate (without executing a valid Will), the most critical concern would be regarding the guardianship of minor children. Contrary to the common misconception, the mother won’t automatically assume guardianship of the children.  Following the death of a father, the court determines the guardianship.

In the absence of a valid Will, guardianship shall be determined per Sharia law for non-Muslim minors too.

As per Sharia law, in the event of the death of the father, the next male relative of the deceased father shall be the default guardian, even if the natural mother of the children is still alive. For example, if in case the paternal grandfather of the children is alive, then he shall be the legal guardian of the minor children.

Executing an appropriate Will is the best step you can take to

ensure your family’s well-being during painful times. We recommend having a DIFC Will, as the DIFC courts have substantial precedence of a seamless process for the grant of probate for such Wills. DIFC Wills covering the distribution of your movable and immovable property in the UAE (also global assets if you wish so) and the appointment of interim and permanent guardians of your minor children residing in the Emirates of Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah (if applicable) is classified as “full Will”. If you are the sole parent of your children, the Single Guardianship Will option is available otherwise, if both you and your wife/husband wish to register a Guardianship Will at the same time, then the Mirror Guardianship Will option can be chosen.

If you require legal advice or assistance in estate/inheritance planning and Will drafting, you may refer to our DIFC-registered Wills Draftsman, Thara Kumar. She can be reached via thara@mahmoodhussain.net


This publication does not provide any legal advice and it is for information purposes only. You should not rely upon the material or information in this publication as a basis for making any business, legal or other decisions. Therefore, any reliance on such material is strictly at your own risk.

Author: Thara Kumar


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