Landmark agreement over inheritance laws in Dubai

A grey area related to the bequeathing of real estate assets held in Dubai by non-Muslim foreign nationals has been cleared following an agreement reached by the Dubai Land Department and a DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) entity.

A “will and probate registry” will be created following the agreement, with the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA) — through its ancillary body, the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry — being the other party.

The move will pave the way for probate court orders covering the Dubai assets of those who have registered their wills through the registry.

“To ensure transparency and investor’s trust in the sector, as well as the current momentum, people need to be confident that their Dubai-based assets can be transferred according to their wishes upon their death,” Sultan Butti Bin Mejren, Director-General of Dubai Land Department, said in a statement on Monday.

The Registry aims to provide individuals the ability to register English language wills that allow their Dubai-based assets to be transferred upon death according to their instructions. The rules governing the Registry reflect the spirit of existing UAE laws, which provide non-Muslims the right to choose the way in which their estates are distributed.

Overseas investors have had reservations about whether they could effect a smooth handover of their assets held here to their benefactors on their deaths. Their doubts related to what sort of regime will be effective in such instances.

“One of the key aims of the WPR is to provide legal certainty and a comprehensible inheritance solution for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai,” stated Michael Hwang, head of the DRA and Chief Justice of the DIFC Courts.

The agreement “gives clear guidelines for the process that will occur when it comes to distributing land or property assets in Dubai for registered wills in the DIFC and will encourage the facilitation of probate court orders, in line with current enforcement procedures via the Dubai Courts.”

Source: Staff Report,

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