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DIFC Courts may register UAE expat wills

2.36 PM Monday, 16 February 2015

Current expat wills only safeguard movable assets, but fall short if immovable assets are involved

Published Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The DIFC is already in process of setting up its register of wills. (File)

Expats will soon have the option to register their wills in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which will be honoured as per the wishes of the testators and this will include immovable assets.

Diana Hamade, Attorney at Law & Legal Consultant, UAE Courts & DIFC Courts, International Advocate Legal Services, who is also a member of the drafting panel, revealed that expats could register their wills here in just three months’ time.

“The DIFC wills for non-Muslims will start around early May 2015. Ideally, the law should have been signed and passed by then. The DIFC is already in process of setting up its register of wills,” she told Emirates 24|7.

However, this could be a more expensive option for expats. As per the draft rules, those wishing to use the registry will have to pay about Dh10,000 to register their wills. This is more than double the charges that people incur with a normal will in Dubai and this includes lawyer’s fee, translation and attestation of wills with the Dubai Courts. But there seems to be good news as the cost of registering at DIFC is likely to come down.

“The fee was set up at Dh10,000 but now they are looking into reducing it,” says Hamade.

But even with the higher cost, many expats believe this could give them much needed peace of mind as it can reduce legal claims.

As of now, a registered expat will can only safeguard their interest as far as movable assets are concerned but falls short if there are any immovable assets in the country.

The Civil Transactions Law of the country applies to real estate inheritance in the county. The same law outlines the procedure. While a sub-article of the said article states that if a person dies in the UAE, then the law of her/his country shall apply when it comes to the disposition of his real estate assets in the country.

However, the subsequent article states that all assets including real estate shall be governed by the UAE law.

For example, if you have money in the bank account, deposits, gold in safe lockers, cars, etc. – these will be distributed as per your wish but if you have a house, your will may not decide who will be the beneficiaries.

However, the DIFC wills are expected to change this. “The DIFC wills will be executed as per the testator’s wish and enforced in DIFC Courts.

There is no application of Sharia [if the testator chooses so],” added Hamade.

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