• wblogo
  • wblogo
  • wblogo

How Dubai's Intended Law For Non-Muslim Succession, Inheritance Will Work - Legal Commentary

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 28 November 2014

articleimage

International law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co has explained how Dubai is consulting on draft rules about succession and inheritance for non-Muslims with assets in the wealth management centre.

International law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co has explained how Dubai is consulting on draft rules about succession and inheritance for non-Muslims with assets in the wealth management centre.

In a commentary by Alistair Glover, senior associate at the law firm, he says that once put into force, the rules will “provide welcome certainty to non-Muslims in passing their Dubai estate to their chosen heirs without the need for their executors to be involved in often complex, costly and uncertain proceedings in the Dubai courts”.

Glover said the rules, being implemented by the Dubai International Financial Centre, will be a “a hugely significant development” that “demonstrates the commitment of Dubai and the DIFC to retaining and supporting expatriates in the Emirate and should result in capital retention in Dubai, as well as growth in direct investment”.

A problem has been that while the existing UAE law appears to provide that the law of the nationality of a non-Muslim should apply to the devolution of his estate, in practice the Dubai Courts have tended to apply Shariah law at first instance – which is clearly far from ideal for non-Muslims. This has meant that such executors and heirs have been forced to appeal such cases through the Dubai courts, the results of which are uncertain. Cases can take years to resolve and assets can be in limbo for the

One change is that going forward, any non-Muslim with assets in Dubai will soon be able to execute and register a will under the jurisdiction of the DIFC and its courts. This means, Glover said, that upon the testator's death, the executors will apply to the newly formed DIFC Wills and Probate Registry for a grant of probate. As the grant is issued by the DIFC Court, it will be directly enforceable in Dubai (like other orders of the DIFC Court) without the need to go through the Dubai Courts (to decide on the merits) and the resulting uncertainty this brings.

Another common fear among expatriate families living in Dubai has centred around guardianship of minor children residing with parents in Dubai. To deal with this, testators will also be able to appoint guardians in respect of any minor children within their DIFC will, Glover said.

As ever, the fine details are crucial. Glover spelled out that the principal proposed requirements to create a valid DIFC will are as follows:

-- The testator must not be a Muslim;
-- The testator must be 21 or above;
-- The will must only cover assets situated in Dubai;
-- The will must be in writing and signed in front of, and witnessed by, the Registrar or an authorised officer;
-- Executors must be 21 or above;
-- The will must be registered with the DIFC (and remain so at the time of death);
-- The will must confirm that the testator intends DIFC law to apply to administration and succession matters;
-- For a will to be registered, executors and guardians (if any) must undertake to act (in person or by witness statement) in accordance with the WPR and DIFC law and submit to the jurisdiction of the DIFC Court;
-- Pay the specified registration fee (proposed to be $2,800)

On registration, an electronic version of the will is stored and a future grant will be issued on the basis of the electronic version of the will.

 

Latest Comment and Analysis

Latest News