New Developments in Estate Planning in the UAE

15 August 2018

New Developments in Estate Planning in the UAE

The Abu Dhabi Judicial Department recently created a wills registry for non-Muslims in the Emirate.

This brings Abu Dhabi in line with its neighbour, Dubai, where non-Muslims can already register a will at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Wills and Probate Registry to govern succession to their assets in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah without reference to the Shariah based inheritance rules which might otherwise apply.

Previously, non-Muslims families in Abu Dhabi had the choice of accepting the Shariah rules of inheritance or to request for the application of the law of the deceased's nationality to be applied by virtue of the UAE personal status law. However in practice, enforcing a foreign will is an extremely slow process usually involving a series of cases in the local courts. The new system should remove such obstacles.

Individuals wishing to register their will in Abu Dhabi seek advice from the Non-Muslims' Wills Office (the Wills Office), which we understand is a specific department within the Abu Dhabi courts.

Whilst there are some similarities between the Abu Dhabi system and its DIFC counterpart, the Wills Office does not specifically limit the scope of the will to assets in Abu Dhabi, meaning  a will registered in Abu Dhabi can potentially cover assets in all 7 emirates (unlike the DIFC, where wills are only registered if they are limited to assets in Dubai and Ras Al Kaimah).

The registration fee is currently AED 950 having increased from AED 500 when the service was originally launched.

The introduction of the Wills Office is a very important development for those with assets in Abu Dhabi and should provide much needed certainty for non-Muslims in dealing with their UAE situated assets.

Whitmill can assist clients in preparing wills in the UAE from its Dubai offices through our professional partners.

For more information contact:  James English


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