Death in Dubai and the power of having a will

In Dubai, properties transfer under Sharia law without a will on death. An eighth of the estate of her deceased husband is granted to a living wife with children. One-quarter of his deceased female estate is eligible by living husband who have daughters. The majority of the estate is split by other members of the family. Expats have previously found that the deceased’s belongings (cars/multi-year deposits, companies, and property) are frozen immediately and that decommissioning will typically take months or years to finish.

The establishment of the Wills and Probate Registry of Dubai International Finance Center in May 2015 has allowed the English Will of non-Muslims in Dubai to rule Dubai properties free from the restrictions imposed by Sharia law.

The Dubai Courts were subjected to comparatively few of their just wills Dubai and it is not yet fully clear if the local courts maintain these wills on death, or whether they will be remembered by banks and the central regional registry in the administration of the DIFC courts.

Non-Muslims will make a willingness on properties in Dubai in three ways at present:

  1. Draw an Arabic Will to have the Dubai Courts understand it. The Civil Code provides for the enforcement of the rule of the country of residence of the expatriate, but the Dubai Courts are not guaranteed to adhere, at least in the first instance, to Sharia theory of death.
  2. Expats must apply to an Arabic version of a will, which was first approved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, then by the Ministry of Justice of the UAE, and then, eventually, by the National Embassy of the Expats (be aware that not all embassies will do this). This is subject to the same uncertainty as above.
  3. Register with the DIFC WPR an English Will (preparing a DIFC Draftsman of Will) accepted.

DIFC Wills Dubai is approved under the current legislation. It also recommends that a Will Register be formed in Dubai Courts following the new DIFC WPR. It assumes that the Dubai Courts will accept in due course explicitly the testamentary free will of non-Muslims. The specifics of these wishes’ formal specifications are still unclear.

Some could be delayed because of the costs inherent in registering a charitable act with the DIFC.

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