As an expat residing in the UAE, how well-versed are you with the rules that govern inheritance and property distribution? Recent legal changes in the UAE have made it simpler for expats to follow the rules of their home country in personal affairs such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance.
Amendments to the Personal Status Code and the Civil Legislation, which were announced on November 7, 2020, offer expats residing in the UAE the option of choosing the law that would apply to their inheritance, ensuring the financial interests of foreign investors in the nation remain stable.
Options available to Non-Muslim Expats for Registering a Will in the UAE
A registered Will is necessary to guarantee that your possessions are transferred according to your wishes. A non-Muslim can register a will in the UAE using one of three options:
1. Wills Service of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
2. Judicial Department of Abu Dhabi
3. Courts in Dubai
Let’s discuss each option in detail.
1. DIFC – Wills Service of the Dubai International Financial Centre
The DIFC Wills Service enables qualified non-Muslims to register their English language following testamentary freedom principles officially. It means a Non-Muslim Individual has a right to direct the disposition of his property in his Will in whatever way he sees fit. It gives individuals the freedom to dispose of their assets in the UAE or throughout the world as they see appropriate after they pass away.
- Kinds of Will at DIFC
The DIFC Courts Wills Service offers several different kinds of wills:
1. A Full will that includes all assets and guardianship arrangements.
2. A Property Will, which can cover up to five properties in the United Arab Emirates.
3. A Guardianship Will, which names temporary and permanent guardians for minors.
4. A Financial Assets Will, which covers bank and brokerage accounts; and
5. A Business Owners Will, which covers free zone and UAE onshore businesses.
- Online registration Service of Full Will
The DIFC previously had a virtual register for property wills, business owner wills, and financial asset wills. For Full Wills, the courts have recently launched an online service. Complete Wills registration takes place via video conferencing, allowing you to use the service from the comfort of your own home using your smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. The technology enables the Testator and two witnesses to participate in a video conference session from separate places and uploading and affixing electronic signatures to an authorized will. It is advisable to take the help of a registered legal practitioner while applying for online registration Services of Will.
- Documents Required
The person must be present for the registration hearing, which is now done online, along with two witnesses.
During this process, you’ll require the following documents:
• The two witnesses’ official identification Card (ID Card).
• Your unsigned draft will.
• Your Emirates ID, passport, and payment proof.
After all of the information has been verified, all parties will finish the process by signing electronically.
2. Abu Dhabi Courts- Non- Muslim Wills and Probates Office
For non-Muslims with assets in the UAE, the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) has regulations governing succession and inheritance. Wills can be registered in Abu Dhabi by any non-Muslim who has assets or relatives in the UAE. Registration can be done in person or by video conference at the Wills Registration Office of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department. The Testator must either be a UAE resident or be in the UAE on a visit visa to register through video conferencing. Non-Muslims owning assets in Abu Dhabi and other emirates can now divide their estates as they see fit. It also provides non-Muslim families with flexible legal alternatives in the case of death.
- Required documents
• Passports and Emirates ID (original and copy)
• A draft of the Will, including enough copies for all parties involved and one for the records.
• Proofs of ownership of the bequeathed property are also required (original and copy).
- Other Conditions to be followed
• Applicant’s presence at the Non-Muslim Wills and Probates Office
• Power of Attorney: If the applicant represents the Testator (person who made the Will).
• Any document not written in Arabic must be translated by a legal translation office certified by the Ministry of Justice.
• The appropriate authorities, such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, must validate any document issued outside the country.
3. Registration of non-Muslim Wills at Dubai Courts Notary Public
Non-Muslims are entitled to a bilingual testament before a notary public in Dubai.
- Emirates ID (if available);
- The title property deeds (if stated in the Will).
Steps to follow
Step 1: Draft a Will
The writing of a will should be done by hiring a lawyer to guarantee the fulfilment of all the criteria and ensure that the Will is enforced.
Step 2: Send the Will to Dubai Courts
Your legal adviser can complete this step online.
Step 3: Registration
The notary public is necessary to sign and finalize the formalities of Will before the personal attendance.
The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the Subject. The first step in registering your Will is to contact a registered lawyer who can prepare your Will following the UAE law. It is an important stage since the Will won’t be enforced if you don’t meet the fundamental legal criteria. Contact HHS Lawyers and Legal Consultants for more information on drafting and Registration of Will.