The DIFC Courts Wills Registry for Non-Muslims was set up in 2014 to allow the registration of wills for non-Muslims. Both residents and non-residents can make use of the registry. The DIFC wills registration is possible as the DIFC has its own set of laws, following UK common law which is overseen by the DIFC Courts. In the first 1-2 years the registration of a DIFC will was not a popular choice as it was untested as well as expensive which limited the expat demographic who would be able to use the service.
What the DIFC Courts Wills Registry offers
The Registry provides legal certainty and peace of mind to non-Muslim expatriates, allowing them to choose their beneficiaries, ultimately ensuring that the person’s wishes as stated in the Will are carried out, upon their death. It has been designed to protect people’s Dubai assets, their family and loved ones after death. The system functions as an opt-in mechanism, but the Will registration is a precondition for those who choose to opt into this system. It allows executors and beneficiaries of an estate to go through the probate process, meaning the process of distributing the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will, through the exclusive jurisdiction of the DIFC Courts, which functions in the English language
From 2016 onwards the service and pricing has made it feasible to appeal to a wider demographic and is being offered as an option for all our clients. We have seen an increased interest of expats from both the East and West registering wills with the DIFC. It is important that all documents are executed in English and under the UK common law that is being practiced by many Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan and Australia.
Requirements for a DIFC Will
To create a valid DIFC Will, the following conditions must be met:
the testator must not be a Muslim
the testator must be 21 or above
the Will must only cover assets situated in the Emirate of Dubai
The Will must be in writing and signed in front of, and witnessed by, the DIFC Registrar or an authorized office
The named executors must be at least 21 years old or, alternatively, a corporate entity
The Will must confirm that the testator intends DIFC law to apply to administration and succession matters
The Will must be registered with the DIFC (and remain so at the time of death). For a Will to be registered, executors and guardians (if any) must undertake to act (in person or by witness statement) in accordance with the DIFC’s Wills and Probate Rules and DIFC law and submit to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Court.
We address inheritance issues for Muslims and non-Muslims ensuring our clients know all the facts and can make optimal decisions. We can prepare for you a Will which declares your intentions as to what should happen to the distribution of your assets, upon death and much more.