By Sarah Townsend
DIFC Wills and Probate Registry was launched in May to give expats certainty on how assets are distributed after death
A total of 650 expats have registered their wills under the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)’s new common law probate system.
The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry launched in May 2015 with the aim of helping non-Muslim expats to transfer assets according to their wishes, rather than in compliance with Islamic sharia law, after death.
Under sharia, shares in inheritance are pre-determined so it does not matter whether the deceased has made a will or not.
The DIFC said on Wednesday that 650 expats have registered wills under the new system in the eight months since it launched.
A total of 363 registrants are from Europe and 174 are from India, with the rest from elsewhere in the world, it said. Almost three-quarters (70 percent) of registered wills were executed by both husbands and wives, the DIFC added. In addition, a new mobile app launches this week enabling expats to book will registration appointments and pay associated fees.
In a statement to media, the DIFC said the new probate system “not only gives the necessary comfort and security sought by families, but it makes an important contribution to Dubai’s larger value offering as a destination for investment and a secure environment.”
Alastair Glover, principal associate at law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co explained that, previously, there was little certainty for bereaved expats attempting to execute deceased relatives’ wills.
He said: “As a firm, we are very pleased to see that the uptake for will registrations in the first eight months has been so strong. The numbers are impressive and reflect our own experience, but they are not surprising.
“The registry satisfies the demand for an effective succession planning solution for both Dubai assets and the care arrangements of minor children.
“Prior to the establishment of the Registry, the lack of certainty surrounding the Dubai estate caused many families great unease. For our clients who have chosen to base themselves in Dubai, the relief and peace of mind they get from registering their wills with the Registry is very apparent.
Mihaela Moldoveanu, senior manager at the registry, added: “We are delighted to have reached the 650 mark over such a short period of time.
“Moving forward, we wish to make sure that the registry becomes an optimal succession solution for expats with assets in Dubai and that we provide excellent service.
“Additionally, we encourage people with a Dubai estate, who consider making a will, to seek professional legal advice to draft their wills, as this is an important legal document.
“Thereafter, they can make use of our online platform to book their will registration appointment.”