14. September 2021
"No one here gets out alive." If Jim Morrison was right, it makes sense for you to prepare for the inevitable. Like many people, you may want control over the distribution of your estate after your death. Maybe you're motivated by tax considerations, or you might simply want the comfort of knowing trusted friends or relatives will look after your children if you die. Whatever your situation, it makes sense to make a will – and if you're a non-Muslim with assets in the UAE, you'll want to use the DIFC Courts Wills Service.
The DIFC provides a common law environment in which non-Muslims can file a will in the English language to govern how they want their assets distributed after they die. These assets can be located anywhere in the world, and can include:
DIFC Courts wills also provide for temporary and permanent guardianship for minor children. This is an important consideration for the many expatriate families who live here in the UAE where 90% of the population do not hold a UAE passport.
The DIFC Courts Wills Service is a joint venture between the Dubai government and the DIFC Courts designed to create and maintain a wills and probate system for non-Muslims. Using the DIFC Courts Wills Service, non-Muslims can sign and file a will dictating how they want their assets distributed, and their minor children cared for, after they die.
The initiative is one of many ways the United Arab Emirates government is creating an institutional infrastructure dedicated to showing tolerance and acceptance towards the values of all citizens.
There are various types of will that you can sign and file with the DIFC:
Typically, we would draft a full will with the following provisions included:
Currently, all DIFC Courts wills are signed and filed online through a video conference facility accessed via the DIFC Courts Wills Service website. For security purposes, the process requires a PC and a smartphone. All parties access the website through an emailed link, including the two witnesses (which we usually provide). All parties then scan a QR code to access the documents, and a user ID allows the documents to be signed on the parties’ smartphones. Finally, the DIFC uploads the signed will onto the DIFC Courts Wills Service Service registry. You can download the signed will from the registry at a later date.
On the death of the testator, the executor mentioned in the will must apply for a probate order (and a guardianship order if necessary) from the DIFC Court. This authorises the executor to administer the estate of the deceased, under the terms of the will. The DIFC Court handles the probate process, including the administration of any claims or objections. The UAE onshore courts can ratify the probate which is then submitted to the banks, company registrars, Land Department and other official bodies to facilitate the collection and subsequent distribution of the estate of the deceased.
Our Wills & Succession Planning team in Dubai can draft and file DIFC Courts wills and can guide you and your family through this process. To find out more about how we can help, contact a member of our team.