Non-Muslim expatriates with assets in the region can now register their wills in English, allowing them to transfer their properties and investments as they wish upon their death. The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry service was launched in May under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai.
The service provides a greater sense of security to the families of working expatriates living in Dubai should their loved ones pass away. The Registry ensures the testator’s Dubai-based assets are distributed as requested in their registered wills. It has been drafted on the basis of Common Law principles from the Estates Act and Probate Rules of the UK, and reflecting legislation of other leading common law jurisdictions such as Singapore and Malaysia.
Before the new system came into existence, previous law allowed non-Muslim individuals to follow the provisions of their native countries for preparing wills, but if Sharia law was applied, the distribution of the deceased assets would be as per a fixed share ratio among family members. If expats wanted to apply their home laws, they had to go through a long and costly procedure by appealing at the court of appeals and the Court of Cassation. This resulted in expats retaining their assets outside the UAE.
The Links Group applauds the efforts of the Dubai leadership in introducing this initiative as it offers a high level of protection for business principals and foreign investors in the region. The new rules recognise the diversity of the UAE community and demonstrate the willingness of the leadership to provide a framework for strengthening the legal environment in the region. It also enhances the region’s attractiveness as an FDI destination and encourages more foreign investors to set up a business in the UAE, which is important for sustaining the economic growth and prosperity of the country.