DIFC registered wills safeguard your UAE assets

I own three villas in Ras Al Khaimah, so is there anything I can do in a will to protect them?

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I have read about people owning property being able to arrange wills to ensure Sharia law will not apply to them. However, this seems to only be the case if the property is in Dubai. I own three villas in Ras Al Khaimah, so is there anything I can do to protect them? I have a Dubai residency visa and a will in Australia, but I don't think that will be recognised here. Do I have any options? CD, Dubai

A will written outside the UAE is not recognised in the courts in the UAE, so CD’s Australian will is not valid. There has always been the facility for non-Muslim expats to write wills for the UAE, but as the final distribution of assets is decided by the courts there was no guarantee that their wishes would be followed. This changed in 2015 when the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry was set up. Now non-Muslim expats have been able to draw wills with respect to assets in Dubai and the certain knowledge that their wishes will be followed in accordance with “common law” – which is internationally recognised – and that Sharia law would not be applied. Initially this applied to properties in Dubai only, but has recently been extended to Ras Al Khaimah. This means that any non-Muslim who owns property in RAK can have the same guaranteed options as those who own property in Dubai. There are a couple of different ways a will can be set up to include property in Dubai and/or RAK so professional advice should be taken. In essence a will needs to be written and then registered with the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, but many people will also need to include other assets or guardianship of minors. If someone already has a full registered will and now wants to include property that they own in RAK, there is a charge of Dh550 for an amendment to an existing DIFC-registered will.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser and senior partner with Holborn Assets in Dubai, with over 20 years’ experience. Contact her at keren@holbornassets.com. Follow her on Twitter at @FinancialUAE.

The advice provided in our columns does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only.


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