Summer in the UAE is traditionally a quiet part of the year when many families head home to spend the time in cooler climes. It is also a time when many turn their minds to 'life admin' and making a Will forms an important part of a family's planning for the future, particularly if there are minor children and / or significant assets owned.
Particularly in the UAE, making a Will is vital to ensure there is a clear and organised account of the wishes that are to take effect in the event of death of an individual. The last few years have seen significant developments in the area of Wills and Inheritance matters in the UAE. What was previously a grey area of the local Law, has now been replaced with multiple options which provide considerable certainty as a result of innovative procedures introduced by the local Government. As a result, expats in the UAE now have no excuse for not ensuring their affairs are in order.
In May 2015 the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) set up the Wills and Probate Registry (WPR) to allow non-Muslims to register a Will in accordance with the DIFC WPR Rules (the Rules) which are based on Common Law. Such Wills allow the testator to bequeath assets based in the Emirates of Dubai and / or Ras Al Khaimah, to their chosen beneficiaries and can include guardianship provisions for minor children habitually resident in either of the two Emirates. This procedure has seen immense popularity amongst both resident and non-resident individuals who wish to protect their financial, corporate and real estate investments based in this jurisdiction and ensure their Succession wishes are upheld. The DIFC Wills Service Centre (DIFC WSC) as it is now known, has registered in excess of 4000 Wills since its introduction and this number continues to increase. Post death cases have also been satisfactorily dealt with in accordance with the relevant procedures and resulted in the wishes of the deceased being upheld, as prescribed in the registered Will. At James Berry & Associates, we have registered Wills at the DIFC WSC for hundreds of our clients and continue to advise and assist on this procedure.
In addition, in the summer of 2017, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) opened its doors to a newly formed Non-Muslim Wills Office which allows Non-Muslims to register a Will bequeathing assets and appointing guardians for minor children. Wills registered at the ADJD can cover assets based in any jurisdiction and therefore this procedure can be used as an additional option by those individuals who have assets based in Emirates other than Dubai and RAK which cannot be covered by a DIFC WSC Will. In addition, the low cost of this service is a draw to those who may find the DIFC WSC option prohibitive due to its registration fees and is therefore chosen as a cost-effective solution. The Post-death procedures are yet to be confirmed, perhaps due to the relatively recent formation of the facility however the ease of use, and efficiency of the Non-Muslim Wills Office personnel has increased interest in the service and we at James Berry & Associates have assisted numerous clients to register their Wills at the ADJD and continue to advise and assist on this procedure.
16 June 2019
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.