Dubai's DIFC launches wills service for business owners

DIFC's new Business Owners Will gives owners and shareholders the option to determine who will own and run their business holdings should they pass away
Dubai's DIFC launches wills service for business owners
DIFC's new Business Owners Will gives owners and shareholders the option to determine who will own and run their business holdings should they pass away.
By Sam Bridge
Sat 15 Sep 2018 01:30 PM

DIFC Wills Service Centre has launched the Business Owners Will, giving owners and shareholders the option to determine who will own and run their business holdings should they pass away.

Through the will, shareholdings held by non-Muslims in any onshore or free zone company can now be transferred to the owner’s chosen beneficiaries, provided the company is established in either Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah.

Previously, this option had only been available to transfer free zone company shares.

The launch aims to help companies take advantage of new rules on foreign ownership set to take effect in 2019, state news agency WAM reported.

It added that the new initiative offers reassurance to management teams and surviving shareholders that a succession plan is in place and that the business will be able to continue as normal in the event of the death of a shareholder.

Sean Hird, director of the DIFC Wills Service Centre, said: "We have moved quickly to provide this new service in advance of the forthcoming legislation. We expect the new laws will bring significant growth in foreign ownership of companies in the UAE and in light of that, have developed a simple online Will template which offers operational continuity.

"It is critical that businesses can survive the sudden absence of an owner or key shareholder. Due to the certainty it can provide, the Business Owners Will ensures that companies will experience minimal disruption as a result of the owner or a major shareholder passing away."

The will is open to both UAE residents and overseas investors owning business in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah and can be registered from anywhere in the world using a virtual registry service offered by the centre and its partner, VFS Global.

Legislation later this year is expected to transform the country’s business landscape by allowing 100 percent ownership of any UAE company by non-Emiratis.

Currently, only free zone companies can be foreign-owned – onshore companies require 51 percent ownership by an Emirati national.

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