Nita Maru, Solicitor and Managing Partner of TWS Legal Consultants talks about the new regulations regarding wills announced by DIFC.

In a landmark move the DIFC introduced new rules, relating to succession and inheritance matters for non-Muslims owning assets in the Emirate of Dubai. The DIFC is the first jurisdiction in the MENA region, where a non-Muslim individual can register a will under the internationally-recognized Common Law principles. Currently, the distribution of assets of a deceased is guided by UAE federal laws, including the Personal Status Law Civil Transactions Code and by public order.

The background to the rules:

The dilemma of the contradictory legislation pertaining to inheritance matters; coupled with the legal uncertainty of expatriate wills, means that non-Muslim expatriates will welcome such a move.

Summary of the DIFC Will and Probate Rules: The Registry marks the introduction of a new set of rules, relating to succession and inheritance matters for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai. The Registry provides a mechanism for non-Muslims, with assets in Dubai, to pass on their estates according to their wishes. The testator must have reached age of 21 years to prepare a will and must be non-Muslim. There is no residency requirement; even non-Dubai residents can register a DIFC will.

The assets dealt with under a DIFC will are limited to Dubai assets only.
A DIFC will can also cover guardianship provisions, if the testator has minor children living with him/her in Dubai.

The rules governing the Registry will provide non-Muslims with the right to choose the way in which their estates are distributed.

The Registry works within the exclusive jurisdiction of the DIFC.

The lawyers at TWS are also able to assist with family matters; including divorce and child custody, as well as corporate and commercial matters.

Family Matters and Divorce:- Recent statistics have shown that :

  • The UAE has the highest rate of divorce in the region, with Dubai taking the first place in the country
  • Dubai alone recorded 1,129 divorces in 2012

TWS’s family law team comprises of British and Arabic speaking lawyers; who regularly advise on divorce, separation, custody, and financial settlements in UAE and UK Courts. We also offer mediation services, with a view to assist you in reconciling your differences.

Corporate Structuring:

Are you or any members of your family thinking of establishing a company in the UAE?

Did you know that your shareholding in a UAE on-shore or a freezone company is exposed to a Sharia distribution in the event of death?

TWS can advise you regarding the structuring of your existing or future business through bespoke solutions in a number of offshore jurisdictions.

Wills, Inheritance Issues and Guardianship Issues:

Did you know that the UAE does not recognize the right of survivorship this means that on the death of a joint owner, property does not automatically pass to the survivor?

Did you know that on the death of a husband, the surviving wife may not automatically be appointed as the legal guardian of any children provision to the UAE law?

TWS is suitably qualified to advise both Muslim and non-Muslim individuals on how you can protect your family and assets through either the DIFC or UAE Courts.

Probate Administration: TWS has considerable experience of dealing with the administration of estates comprising assets in both the UAE and the UK. TWS also can advise you on all of the processes involved from determining the assets and liabilities to ensuring that an estate in distributed to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

Please contact one of our experienced lawyers today for more details. Email us at or call +971 4 448 4284.
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