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Introducing the New Wills & Probate Registry, DIFC, Dubai: Part II What You Need to Know Before Registering Your Will

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Published June 2015

The Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”) formally launched the new Wills & Probate Registry (“WPR”) on 30 April 2015. This initiative will no doubt instill greater confidence amongst the Non-Muslim residents and non- residents of Dubai.

To avail of this new set of rules relating to succession and inheritance, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • The Testator must be a Non-Muslim and over 21 years of age; and
  • All assets and objects must be physically located in the Emirate of Dubai.

Going forward, all new wills should be drawn up in accordance with the WPR rules by a qualified, registered and regulated legal advisor in Dubai. Additionally, any existing wills in relation to assets and minors in Dubai should be amended in accordance with the new rules to provide for better and adequate protection. 

Once the will has been properly prepared, an appointment to execute the will at the WPR should be sought. The Testator, intended witness and proposed guardian(s) of the minors (if applicable) should attend the WPR in person (at the given time) to execute the will.

Unique Features and Preventative Measures

  • Before it is executed in the presence of the WPR Officer, the will is checked thoroughly to make sure that it complies with the WPR Rules. This innovative method of execution acts as a deterrent to future challenges in relation to the valid execution of the will and testamentary capacity of the Testator.
  • The executed will is then digitally stored in a secure facility until it is needed and a reference code and copy of it is given to the Testator. Electronic storage of the Will similarly acts as a preventative measure to rule out any possible allegations of forgery and eliminates the risk of tampering, loss and theft.
  • Compared to other jurisdictions, the cost of registering a DIFC Will is certainly not exorbitant. The costs have been deliberately “front loaded” to ensure that the Testator bears the bulk of the costs and not his/her loved ones and beneficiaries; again, another unique and user friendly feature.
  • The WPR facilitates the execution of an Order Confirming Guardianship for minors (even if the Testator has no physical or substantial assets in Dubai). Prior to the new rules, issues relating to the guardianship of minor children was a common fear amongst expatriate families living in Dubai. Under the new WPR rules, provided that the Testator has minor children living with him/her in Dubai, a Will Confirming Guardianship can be registered with the WPR.
  • Registration of the Will with the WPR does not require attested legalised documents. The registration process is extremely facilitative, with only basic documents being required. Specifically, the Testator will have to provide only his/her Emirates ID (if available), his/her passport, and a copy of the unsigned will. The WPR is dedicated to ensuring that the process is as quick, easy and cost-efficient as possible.

As and when required, the Grant of Probate will be obtained from the DIFC Courts, which will work in conjunction with the WPR.

Fees payable to the DIFC WPR
                 

Single Will Registration:  AED 10,000
 
Mirror Wills Registration (spouses):  AED 15,000 (AED 7,500 each)

Modifications to an already registered Will: AED 550

Registration of a Will with Guardianship only provisions:  AED 5,000

Registration of two Mirror Guardianship Wills :  AED 7,500

Grant of Probate: AED 5,500

Next Steps

Given the new rules, it may be timely to holistically review your existing succession plan, as well as update your will to reflect any new assets and additions to your Dubai estate, such as property, businesses, bank accounts, precious jewellery, works of art, cars, investment plans and policies, and determine your beneficiaries and guardians.

For those who do not yet have a will, it is prudent to take advantage of this newly introduced system, which facilitates testamentary freedom for Non-Muslims. If you do not have a will in place (ie. if you die “intestate”), your Dubai assets will devolve according to UAE Personal Status Law, which means that Sharia’ law could be applied.

It is important that you seek local legal advice to avoid the risk of your will being rejected by the Registry. Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota Legal Consultants is well placed to assist you in navigating the estate planning process in Dubai and preparing your will. We would be pleased to send you a questionnaire and meet with you to discuss next steps, prepare a draft, apply for an appointment with the Registry, and attend with you.

For further information, or to discuss the content of this Legal Alert in more detail, please contact: Sunita Singh-Dalal, Partner (ssingh-dalal@ach-legal.com or +9714-4529091). You may also visit: www.ach-legal.com