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All you need to Know About DIFC Wills for Property

A DIFC will is a legally recognized document that allows a non-Muslim testator to explicitly mention the distribution of the assets such as properties, financial assets, and businesses to beneficiaries. The initiative taken by the DIFC Courts seeks to protect non-Muslims’ interests by allowing them to draft a Will and control the distribution of their assets, mainly their estates. Note: failure to register a valid and recognized Will in UAE will allow the courts to apply the UAE Law of Inheritance, governed by the Sharia Law in the distribution of assets after the death of an individual. A Will lawyer in Dubai can provide legal advice to prepare a suitable Will, as well as assist in drafting the Will as per the requirements of the testator and concerned authorities.

Understanding a DIFC Property Will

  • The DIFC Wills Service and Registry allows individuals to draft a specific property Will that explains the distribution of the testator’s estate to the mentioned beneficiaries.
  • A testator is entitled to include a maximum of five (5) real estate properties, solely or partly owned and located locally or internationally.
  • The DIFC Courts recently introduced a new provision that allows individuals in the UAE to register their wills at the DIFC wherein they can include the distribution of all assets located within and outside UAE.
  • The DIFC conducts pre-registration checks that are executed on an appointment basis with the Wills Service.
  • The five real estate properties mentioned within the property Will should be described in detail for better understanding. The Will should also include details about the appointed executors and beneficiaries.
  • The Property Will is only limited to real estate properties, and a full Will should be selected instead if the testator wishes to include more than five real estate properties or any other movable and immovable assets.

Benefits of DIFC Wills for Property

  • No interference from Sharia law

The DIFC Courts have an independent jurisdiction that offers non-Muslims ability to register their Wills with the DIFC without having to comply with the Sharia law in the UAE. These Wills allow an individual to distribute the estate to the nominated and appointed executors and beneficiaries, as per the testator’s wish instead of following the Sharia law, to which the testator may be subject to in the absence of a valid and recognized Will in the UAE.

  • Simplified process for registration of a property Will

The DIFC seeks to provide a user-friendly process for registration of a property Will. The Wills and Probate Registry also ensure quick results for the registration and signing of the Will, for its execution upon the death of the testator.

  • Provides non-Muslim with the facility to register property Wills in UAE

The initiative taken by the DIFC, allows non-Muslims to register their Wills, even if they do not have residency in the UAE. However, if an individual seeks to register their Will in the region, he/she should own at least a movable or immovable asset, or have minor children residing in the UAE. 

  • Allows the inclusion of a wide range of assets

DIFC Property Wills allow individuals to include various assets and distribute the estate situated in the UAE or overseas. The DIFC Courts have introduced the latest provisions that allow an individual to include both movable and immovable assets located within or outside the UAE.

  • No Estate tax on the distribution of assets

The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry has also restricted any estate tax to be imposed on the assets located in Dubai that have to be divided between the executors and beneficiaries as per the Will.

Few requirements for registering a Will with DIFC

  • Only a non-Muslim can register a Will with the DIFC; the individual should not be a Muslim or has never in the past been a Muslim.
  • The minimum age of the testator should be 21 years old
  • The testator should own at least one asset in Dubai or Ras al Khaimah or should have a minor child residing in either region.

Will Drafting Services in Dubai

The latest amendments to the DIFC laws have increased the number of Will and Probate applications in the last few months. It is necessary for non-Muslim individuals to seek help from lawyers to draft their Wills and register them with the DIFC Will and Probate Registry. HHS Lawyers can provide assistance in drafting a Will as per the testator’s wishes, as well as provide legal advice and consultations when required.

M. Al Khairy, LL.B. is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Al Khairy also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators. Read more