Chapter 8.1: DIFC Will and Probate Registry
- What is the DIFC WPR?
An English language registry based inside the DIFC – the Dubai International Financial Centre – enabling the formal registration of wills.
- Who is it aimed at?
Non-Muslim individuals over the age of 21 with assets in UAE. The DIFC WPR is not open to Muslims.
- What assets may be covered in a DIFC will?
Any assets physically located or registered in the UAE. While Dubai based, the DIFC WPR does extend to the other Emirates. The DIFC WPR does extend to assets located or registered abroad; For countries that have the principles of common law like Australia, Canada, UK, India, Singapore, we could aim for one will, which could be the DIFC one or, if needed, the client could look into two separate wills for each jurisdiction (It would depend on assets and on how the client would like to share his estate).
- Does this include real estate?
Absolutely. UAE located real estate can be covered in a DIFC will.
- Does one need to be a UAE resident to register a DIFC will?
No. UAE resident status is not a criterion to register a DIFC will.
- What is the DIFC WPR’s legal framework?
The DIFC is a Common Law jurisdiction. The WPR’s Rules are based primarily on the principles contained in the UK Estates Act and Probate rules. Sharia principles do not form part of the DIFC
- Does any restriction apply as to the devolution of assets?
The DIFC WPR provides for full testamentary freedom. Some restrictions may apply depending on the testator’s citizenship and/or
- Can guardianship issues be covered in a DIFC will?
Yes. The guardianship of minor children habitually residents in the UAE with the testator may be addressed in a DIFC standard will, or alternatively, in a specific guardianship will, i.e a will executed specifically to address such particular purpose.
- Can a DIFC Will be registered abroad?
Yes. In certain circumstances, e.g. terminal illness, the DIFC WPR’s Director may approve and send an Authorized Officer to assist in will registration outside the DIFC WPR’s office to enable the testator to execute a will. Additional costs apply.
Also, DIFC Will is now 100% online – can be concluded from everywhere in the world.
- How does the DIFC WPR work in practice?
An appointment is booked online (www.difcprobate.ae). The execution of the will takes place at the time of registration in the presence of a registry officer and one / two witness(es) chosen by the testator. The will is stored electronically at the DIFC WPR as the original. All procedure is online.
- Once the will is registered, will the DIFC WPR take decisions in this respect?
No. The DIFC WPR is an administrative body primarily in charge of wills registration. Probate grants, court orders and guardianship orders are issued by the DIFC courts, which are also competent to adjudicate any contentious probate matters. Grants and orders are issued in English and Arabic.
- How much does the registration of a DIFC will cost?
USD 2,800* for a single standard will and USD 4,200* for two mirror standard wills; USD 1,400* for a single guardianship will and USD 2,100* for two mirror guardianship wills.
Such costs do not include professional fees for assistance in drafting the DIFC will, registering it, acting as witness, drafting the letter of wishes, being appointed and/or acting as executor.
* Subject to changes. Exclusive of VAT and any out-of-pocket expenses.
- How much does the enforcement of a DIFC will cost?
USD 1,500 for an application for a grant of probate. A “grant of probate” is a legal instrument that gives authority to the executor to handle the disposal of the deceased’s assets and debts.
- Who can be an executor?
A family member, a friend, or a legal representative (attorney). It is possible to appoint co-executors – e.g., a family member together with an attorney. Being appointed as executor is not neutral and comes with its set of specific duties.
- Can a DIFC Will be challenged?
Yes. A challenge may be lodged before the DIFC Courts who will hear any claim launched against a will.
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