Any non-Muslim who is:
- over the age of 21;
- an owner of assets in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, such as real and moveable property including shares in companies incorporated in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah (includes any Free Zone or RAKICC Company situated in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah); and/or
- a parent/legal guardian of children under the age of 21 who are resident in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, should give serious consideration to registering a DIFC Will.
No, but it is recommended. Our platform provides you with the tools to generate your own DIFC Will in compliance with the WSC Rules, without incurring significant additional consultancy fees. Banks Legal can, however, provide you with consultancy and estate planning services.
You do not have to be a resident of Dubai to register a Will. Executors, guardians and your witness need not to be residents of Dubai, but we would recommend this.
No. Pursuant to Article 9(1)(a) of Order No. 1 of 2015 in respect of the Rules of the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, Muslims may not register DIFC Wills. This status is also tested on death to ensure the testator did not convert to Islam after making the DIFC Will. If you are Muslim and you require assistance with estate planning, please contact email@example.com to discuss further.
A DIFC Will covers any asset physically located in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah (ie. real property, financial assets, investments, free zone company shares etc).
Yes, real property (real estate) located in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah are covered by a DIFC Will.
A DIFC Will covers assets located in the Emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah only. However, in some cases there may be ways of including assets located outside of the Emirates of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah under your DIFC Will by having those assets owned by a company incorporated in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah in which you hold shares (the shares would be considered to be a Dubai/Ras Al Khaimah asset), provided that the asset may be held by a corporate entity.
Yes. However, this provision will only be enforceable in respect of your children under the age of 21 who are resident in the UAE. Muslims are not permitted to act as guardians. Minor females may only have women, married couples or immediate family members appointed as their guardians.
A DIFC Will offers a greater degree of certainty in respect of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah held assets. This is not available under an onshore Will due to the risk of an onshore Will being ruled invalid under UAE Law. This certainty is especially relevant in respect of real property, as the onshore Will has a distinct lack of certainty due to an inconsistency within the local laws. It is not clear whether an onshore Will can exempt the application of Sharia law in respect of real property.
There is quite a lot of uncertainty surrounding whether a Will executed in a testator’s home country is enforceable in the UAE. Even if it is ultimately followed in the UAE, there will be extensive delays as your Will would first need to be proved in your home country, then notarised, apostilled, endorsed by the UAE Embassy in your home country and then endorsed by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Ministry of Justice. This is a costly and time consuming process that is best avoided.
I have an existing will covering my international assets (overseas Will). Is this overseas Will invalidated by a DIFC Will?
Your overseas Will is only invalidated to the extent that it covers any assets located in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah which are mentioned in your DIFC Will. In other words, where there is conflict between your DIFC Will and your overseas Will in respect of assets located in the Emirates of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah, your DIFC Will supersedes your overseas Will. You may need to make a codicil to the overseas Will to exclude assets located in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah in order to avoid conflict between the overseas and DIFC Wills and you should seek advice from our lawyer in respect of any amendments required to your overseas Will.
DIFC Wills are registered with the DIFC Wills Service Centre (WSC). The WSC is established and governed by DIFC Law. The DIFC is a Common Law jurisdiction and as a result would have similarities to the Courts of England and Wales and is based on a system of binding legal precedent. This aspect provides testators with additional comfort that their DIFC Will shall be governed by a robust legal system which makes DIFC Wills an attractive option in respect of Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah based assets.
Once your DIFC Will has been drafted, you will then attend an appointment (which may be arranged via the following link) with the WSC. They will review your documents and discuss your DIFC Will with you to ensure that your DIFC Will reflects your intentions. The DIFC Will must then be executed in the presence of a WSC authorised officer and your appointed witness.
Go to the WSC website and follow the instructions set out for booking an appointment (this will require the payment of an AED 1,000 deposit).
A beneficiary may act as a witness. However, this is not recommended as any bequest made to this beneficiary under the DIFC Will shall fail if they are named as a witness to the signing of your DIFC Will. Banks Legal can provide a witness to attend the appointment with you if required (we will charge a fee for this). A beneficiary may be appointed as an executor without adversely affecting their entitlements or the validity of any provisions of a DIFC Will.
Yes, the DIFC Will allows full testamentary freedom.
The registered DIFC Will shall be kept in the WSC’s electronic system for 120 years from the date of your birth or for 10 years from the grant of probate, whichever is sooner.
- You should seek tax advice when drawing up your DIFC Will, you may be subject to inheritance tax on a worldwide basis.
- While we are unable to comment on the various overseas tax regimes that may result in bequests and/or distributions being taxable, there is currently no estate tax in the UAE.
Probate is issued upon application submitted to the DIFC Courts by an executor, or in their absence, a beneficiary. The DIFC Courts are the competent authority to rule in respect of any disputes in probate matters in addition to issuing the grant of probate and any orders in relation to guardianship. Once the DIFC Will has been probated, the testator’s wishes can be given effect by the executor.
The actual time will depend upon a number of variables such as complexity, whether or not the DIFC Will is contested and the workload of the WSC/DIFC Courts at the time of execution.
Your DIFC Will expresses your wishes at a particular point in time and you may modify a DIFC Will by having a modified Will drafted and arranging an appointment to execute the amendment at the WSC via the WSC website. The WSC fee for processing the amendment is currently AED 550. It is generally recommended that you periodically review your DIFC Will to ensure it continues to be an accurate reflection of your intentions.
You should regularly review to update your Will in the following cases:
- new gift or bequest;
- your marriage or divorce after the registration of your Will;
- birth or adoption of a child whom you wish to include as a Beneficiary;
- change in assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah;
- any change to guardians or beneficiaries;and/or
- death or incapacity of a trustee.
Change of your address or details of parties to the Will do not require modification of the Will. However you should notify the Wills Service Centre as soon as they occur to avoid delays in probate.
A DIFC Will may be revoked and de-registered from the WSC by booking and attending an appointment with the WSC to do so via their website. There is no WSC charge for withdrawal of a DIFC Will.
You may appoint an attorney/legal representative to revoke your Will on your behalf under a Power of Attorney. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you require such assistance.