The purpose of this article is to provide a brief introduction to a new possibility for foreigners in Dubai to register their last wills and testaments (Wills) and express their wishes with regard to the distribution of their Dubai (and/or Ras Al Khaimah) assets after death.
If you are a foreigner, non-Muslim and you have real estate, a bank account, a car or other assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) and you do not have a Will, then it is most probable that after your death these assets will be distributed in accordance with Sharia law. For an example of the distribution calculation, please refer to the approximate Inheritance Calculation page on the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry site http://difcprobate.ae/
As an example, in the case of the death of a married man with two sons, a daughter and parents, inheritance pursuant to Sharia law will result in the wife's share in the inheritance being 12.5%, while each of the sons inherits a share of 21.67%.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) introduced the new rules relating to succession and inheritance matters of non-Muslims owning assets in Dubai and/or RAK. It became the first jurisdiction in the region where a non-Muslim individual can register a Will under the internationally recognised Common Law principles.
DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (WPR) was established by Resolution No.4 of 2014 issued by Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the President of the DIFC. The WPR is established under the jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts, allowing it to operate as a distinct entity. WPR provides the first service of its kind that allows eligible individuals the ability to register their Wills according to the principles of testamentary freedom, meaning the freedom to dispose of their property upon death as they see fit. By virtue of the WPR Rules, eligible individuals with assets in Dubai and/or RAK now have the ability to register English language Wills that create legal certainty for the inheritance of their assets after death.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE
•You must be a non-Muslim.
•You must be over 21 years old.
•Your assets must be situated in Dubai and/or RAK.
•You must speak English
•You could be either a resident ora non-resident of the UAE, but with regard to guardianship matters your children must be UAE residents.
VARIOUS TYPES OF WILLS
1)DIFC Full Will:
A last will and testament covering real estate properties and all other assets of any kind located in Dubai and/or RAK. The last will and testament may also include provisions for the guardianship of minor children of the testator provided the children live with the testator and are resident in Dubai.
The registration fees for a single Will are AED10,000.
These are two separate Wills prepared for a husband and wife which mirror each other. Mirror Wills are very popular amongst married couples with or without children.
The registration fees for two mirror Wills are AED15,000 (for both Wills)provided spouses sign their Wills at the same time.
As of September 6, 2016 testators are able to complete and submit for registration at the Registry a Will that specifically covers up to five (5) real estate properties (or a share in any such five properties). It is not possible to include any other assets or the guardianship of children in such a Will.
The registration fees are AED7,500 for a single property Will or AED10,000 for two mirror Wills i.e. spouses sign Wills at the same time.
4) Free Zone Company Will
The testators are able to complete and submit for registration at the Registry a Will that specifically covers his/her shares in a Free Zone Company in Dubai or RAK. It is not possible to include any other assets or the guardianship of children in such a Will.
The registration fees are AED5,000 for a single Will or AED10,000 for two mirror Wills i.e. spouses sign Wills at the same time.
5) Guardianship Will:
It is also possible to register a Will solely pertaining to the appointment of guardians of minor children residing with the testator in Dubai.
The registration fees of a single Will are AED5,000 or AED7,500 for two mirror Wills i.e. spouses sign Wills at the same time.
In order to register a Will, an appointment must be booked with the Registrar of the WPR.
For both the preparation of a Will and the appointment with the Registrar, the testator must bring:
•the unsigned Will (with any annexes);
•title deeds pertaining to any property or assets the subject of the Will;
•the testator’s passport and Emirates ID (if applicable);
•the passport and Emirates ID (if applicable) of the witness (see below for more information on witnesses);
•details of the beneficiaries of the Will; and
•any other documentation referred to in the Will.
Two witnesses are also required to witness the signing of the Will: the Registrar at the DIFC WPR acts as one of these witnesses and the other witness may be anyone other than a beneficiary of the Will (the lawyer who drafted the Will or a friend or relative may attend provided they are not named in the Will).
SIGNING THE WILL
Appointments for the signing and registration of the Will can be made online at www.difcprobate.ae/appointments upon payment of a booking fee of AED1,000 per Will. In case of cancellation of an appointment, this fee is non-refundable. The appointment may be re-scheduled twice. The remaining balance of the registration fees can be paid in cash, by cheque or by credit card at the time of signing.
Once completed, the Will is registered at the WPR and stored in electronic form (which provides additional security). The testator receives a certified copy if requested. It is also advisable to keep certified copies with the executors/trustees and or beneficiaries.
The Registry clearly states that they do not provide legal advice, but they do strongly recommend making use of the services of a licensed practitioner. This will ensure that a Will complies with the Registry’s requirements and should avoid any delays with the registration of a Will. Only lawyers registered to draft and register a “DIFC Will” at the DIFC Wills & Probate Registry will be able to act on behalf of testators. The list of registered lawyers is available on their website under “Register of Will Draftsmen”.
Following extensive training, exams and an interview with the Head of Registry, I am now licensed by the DIFC Wills and Probate Register to draft Wills for foreigners with properties and assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah. Please follow the link www.difcprobate.ae/using-professional-legal-services/ to check the registration of Marina Fox of Marina Fox Legal Consultancy as a licensed legal practitioner for Wills drafting.