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What is the law applicable in matters of inheritance to foreigners living or having an inheritance in the Emirates?
In principle, the law of the United Arab Emirates is applicable in the event of death.
The principles of Sharia are thus applied by default, it being specified that Sharia provides for specific provisions in this area (such as the limitation of the rights of the surviving spouse, the calculation of the shares allocated to children according to their sex, etc.).
Foreign nationals can however expressly request by testamentary application of their national law. (Article 1 (2) of the UAE Personal Status Law).
However, despite the signing of a will submitted to the law of your country of origin on the basis of this article, local court judges can still reject the application of the will, leading to a long and complex legal procedure before be able to obtain official recognition.
What is the DIFC Will & Probate Registry?
In 2014, HH Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Center) decided to create a specific register of wills for non-Muslims under the aegis of the DIFC: DIFC Will & Probate Registry. The implementing decree was signed in March 2015 for entry into force on May 1, 2015.
The applicable provisions are those of common law and therefore of total testamentary freedom.
This allows non-Muslim expatriates:
- to register wills legally;
- allow the wishes of the deceased to be respected by avoiding questioning of the local jurisdictions and;
- to guarantee a much faster and less costly execution procedure.
What is DIFC?
The DIFC is the Dubai International Finance Center: it is a free zone jurisdiction located in the Emirate of Dubai, which consequently has its own regulations. A free zone jurisdiction can be assimilated to a country within the country in legal and commercial terms, because it can issue its own laws and in this case benefits from its own courts.
Regarding successions, the DIFC has received a monopoly from the Dubai government on the registration of wills for non-Muslims.
The DIFC is located geographically north of Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.
How to update a will?
This requires drawing up a new will that will automatically void and supersede the provisions of the old one.
What taxes are payable in the event of inheritance?
There is no tax to pay in the Emirates in the event of inheritance. Please note, however, that the change of ownership of certain assets (real estate, shares, etc.) may generate registration rights (consult us depending on the nature of the assets).
I am no longer a resident of the Emirates at the time of death, what are the consequences?
If you still have assets located in Dubai, the will remains valid even if you are no longer a resident of the Emirates. On the other hand, certain parts of the will, such as custody of minor children, can no longer be applied (managed in this case by your new country of residence).
How long does it take to register a will?
Usually, it takes a maximum of half a day to complete all of the procedures for registering your will, as soon as your file is complete.