Holders of assets in Dubai can now register a DIFC will

By Stuart Walker, Afridi & Angell

The Wills and Probate Registry in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) opened in late April of this year. It is now possible to register a will in Dubai, and to have a high degree of confidence that it will be enforced in accordance with its terms.

Prior to the establishment of the registry, it hadn’t been possible to be so confident that foreign wills would be enforced in the United Arab Emirates. There were concerns that Shari’a law would be applied to the estates of non-Muslims, particularly with respect to real property (land and buildings). The establishment of the registry is therefore a welcome initiative, and persons who have assets in Dubai should almost certainly register a will with the registry.

Points to note

A few points to note right from the beginning: firstly, only non-Muslims may lodge their wills with the registry. At the time of registering the will the testator (the person making the will) must confirm that they are not a Muslim, nor have ever been a Muslim. If this confirmation is later proved to be inaccurate then the will becomes void. Secondly, testators must be at least 22 years old. Thirdly, the will can only relate to assets in the emirate of Dubai. Finally, the value of the Dubai assets must be balanced with the costs of using the registry. There are a number of fees payable, some reasonably significant for many people. For example, the cost of registering a will is currently 10,000 Emirati dirhams (US$2,700).

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Stuart Walker is a partner at Afridi & Angell, a UAE-based law firm with offices in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the DIFC and Sharjah.


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