If you are a Muslim, and your wife is not, and you live in the UAE

Question: #Hilda, I am Muslim, my wife is not. We are both Dutch and we live in the United Arab Emirates. I also want to take care of my wife if I die, but how do we do that if I am not allowed to have an expatament drawn up?


In every conversation I have about Wills and estate planning, I speak about different “layers” of protection. By that I mean that you are not there with taking out life insurance, but that you have to take a number of actions. You stack them on top of each other for ultimate protection.

  1. If you do not already have one, have a Will prepared in the Netherlands. If you go to the Netherlands in the summer (depending on the Corona measures), please contact a Dutch notary now, and don’t do that at the last minute. If your Dutch Will is older than 5 years, please ask the notary if it needs to be adjusted.
  2. Do you have underage children? Then get a legalized guardianship letter. (For anyone who is not a Muslim; don’t, because not safe enough).
  3. Take a life insurance policy where you designate your wife as a beneficiary, and record that the money will be deposited in her Dutch bank account after your death. The tax exemption between spouses is quite large, so do not immediately worry about the tax consequences.
  4. Put real estate in the UAE to your wifes name. Are you afraid that in case of a divorce you will be ‘fishing behind the net’? Then make sure that you both own half of it. This advice also applies to other UAE assets such as your own company. If you own a company, make your wife a shareholder.
  5. Make sure that there is as little money as possible in a joint account in the UAE. It will be blocked when you die, and it will take forever to get the money out for her. 
  6. Make sure that your wife has a UAE savings account in her own name with a bank other than yours.
  7. Top up your savings account in the Netherlands a bit if you can.
  8. Provide an emergency credit card. (Don’t do this if your wife has a hole in her hand).
  9. Put cash in a safe, with a copy of your life insurance documents, your computer passwords, a copy of your passport, a copy of your Emirates ID, a summary of your bank accounts, a copy of your title or lease, and all other documents for which your death has consequences.
  10. Give her gold jewelry for her birthday, mother’s day etc. Always easy to make liquid in an emergency.
  11. If you have a lease in the UAE, make sure that it is on your both names at the next renewal.
  12. Provide “nest eggs” outside the UAE, such as having your own house in the Netherlands.
  13. Are you wealthy? Then start a foundation in the UAE.