The principal source of law of inheritance in UAE is Shariah Law. In addition, main laws governing succession in United Arab Emirates are Federal Law Number 5 of 1985 concerning the Civil Transactions Code (the Civil Law) and Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 regarding the Personal Status Law (the Personal Law).
So, what happens to the family and the assets of the deceased in the UAE? This is the question which troubles most of the expats residing in UAE. Since Dubai is a hub for foreign investments, and Real Estate sector attracts major investments, therefore the Government of Dubai makes sure that the rights of the non – Muslims are safe guarded and their investments are safe.
DIFC Wills and Probate Registry
The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry as a public entity of the Dubai Government and an ancillary body of the DIFC’s Dispute Resolution Authority offers, since May 2015 have been introduced for non – Muslim expats living in Dubai.
This service allows non-Muslims a greater choice in determining how their assets in the Emirate of Dubai are to be distributed and in appointing guardians for their minor children residing in one Dubai following their death. For a DIFC Will registration, the following four key criteria are to be met:
- The Testator is not a Muslim and has never been a Muslim.
- Testator is over 21 years of age.
- The Testator owns assets in the Emirate of Dubai (however no requirement to be resident in the UAE).
- Any children for which the Testator wishes to appoint interim and/or permanent guardians for must be habitually resident in the Emirate of Dubai.
In case of absence of any Will registration in the DIFC by the expat, under such circumstances if the expat dies then the distribution of the assets of the deceased shall be done as per the Sharia Law, unless the Expat has a will in their home country and that show the distribution of their assets. The Will from the Home country would need to be attested and presented to the court and it is up to the court whether they will accept the validity of the Will.
The DIFC wills can finally promote certainty among expatriates, promote investment in Dubai and avoid family members becoming involved in uncertain proceedings that can be encountered in the UAE courts. To the relief of expat families in Dubai is that provisions for guardianship of minor children can be included.