Estate planning in the UAE

Posted By Emma Cronin   -   Posted On August 01, 2018

Estate planning is an important consideration, regardless of your circumstances, involving precautionary placement in asset protection and delegation of care - all of which should be taken into account long in advance of one having any need to deliberate over such things.

A Last Will and Testament is ordinarily executed to dictate ones final wishes in safeguard of loved ones and distribution of property in the event of death. In the UAE however, the importance of such a document cannot be overstated given the prevailing law of the land and thus, expatriates should be particularly mindful of the risk involved in not taking measure for estate planning if the worst should happen.

Sharia law is the underlying system in the UAE and therefore, determination of status surrounding marriage, divorce, child custody and all matters ancillary thereto is guided by Islamic law principles.

Although Sharia is, by default, the allocated system determining succession, certain available options exist for non-Muslim persons that wish to allocate their estate alternate to the method prescribed. The preferred forum for valid and enforceable testament would be the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (“DIFC WPR”) which provides specific mechanism for expatriates to define issues of guardianship, dissolution of bank accounts and inheritance in respect of assets located within Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah.

Assets in other Emirates are unfortunately not afforded recognition under the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry and thus alternate testament must be made in consideration of the particular law surrounding the relevant jurisdiction.

The Dispute Resolution Authority under the Dubai International Financial Centre has made it possible for expatriates to register a Last Will and Testament in respect of certain, or all, considerations at death. One may execute a Testament to deal specifically with issues of guardianship, free zone companies or bank account alternately execute an all-encompassing document to treatment of all assets across these jurisdictions which can be a single document, alternatively can be entered into in duplicate concerning spouses called a “Mirror Will”.

At Senat MEA we are able to provide guidance surrounding the best available options in estate planning within the UAE and, where one is able to satisfy the requirements set under the DIFC WPR Rules, including status as a non-Muslim individual over the age of majority, we are able to assist in the drawing up and registration of your Last Will and Testament with the DIFC WPR.

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