What to Know About the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry

Having a will is crucial for protecting assets and ensuring your family’s legal. Doing so is even more critical if you’re a foreigner living in the United Arab Emirates, as the consequences of not being prepared could cause significant implications for your dependents. Fortunately, the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry has a solution that can help you mitigate those issues in an optimal outcome. 


difc wills and probate registry wpr


Why you need to have a will in the UAE

In the case of the untimely death of a patriarch and if there’s no will in place, inconveniences will arise. The consequences of not having a will start with outcomes such as the cancellation of dependent visas or freezing bank accounts. Not only that, if you lack a notarised will, your family members will only gain access to your assets in the UAE via court order. That generally takes between three to six months, depending on how complicated the situation is. 

Not only that, even if you are not Muslim, in the absence of a notarised will, your assets may be distributed among your family under the tenets of Shariah Law instead of the principles of your country of origin. This fact can be a cause of concern for those seeking to own assets in the United Arab Emirates. 


How can you avoid this outcome? Look no further than the DIFC Wills Service Centre

The DIFC Wills Centre, formerly the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (WPR), is a joint initiative of the Dubai Government and the DIFC Dispute Resolution Authority. It gives non-Muslims living and investing in the UAE the option to pass on their assets, as well as appoint guardians for their children based on the wishes stipulated in their will. 

There are five different types of wills to fit your circumstances. The Guardianship Will covers guardianship matters for children under 21. The Property Will covers up to five properties in the UAE, while the Business Owners Will is for up to five free zone and offshore company shares. The Financial Assets Will covers up to ten bank or brokerage accounts. Finally, the Full Will is a comprehensive will covering all forms of assets. The idea is that the DIFC offers different documents according to your needs and some of the DIFC wills offer a will template you can use to make the process easier. 

The benefit of opting for this service is that it includes all your assets in the UAE and lets them be subject to the English Common Law of inheritance for British citizens. Should itbe in another country, your will becomes applicable to the local legislation in your country of origin. You will then ensure you have control over who receives your assets in the event of an untimely passing. 

How can you register a DIFC will? 

There are four requirements to be eligible for DIFC will registration. First, you must be a non-Muslim and have never been a Muslim before. You must also be at least 21 years of age and have assets in the UAE. If you include clauses regarding guardianship, those appointed guardians habitually live in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah. 

Once you prepare the documents, there are two pre-registration options. You can go for physical pre-registration for all five will types at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), or you can do so virtually for the Property Registration Will, Financial Assets Will and Business Owners Will. They also recommend having your identification documents verified at least 30 days before your appointment at a VFS Global identity verification office overseas. 


The difference between a DIFC will and Dubai court will

There are some key differences you should know. A DIFC will only cover Dubai or the RAK ICC Free Zone in Ras Al-Khaimah, whereas a will register with the Dubai court system will apply to all seven emirates. If you decide to register a will with Dubai courts, you would need to supply the Arabic translation completed through an approved legal translator. If you opt for a DIFC will, you can go through the entire process in English without a translator, however, you must go in with a written will because they will not do it for you.   


Are you looking to write your will and register it at the DIFC?

At Europe Emirates Group, we have extensive experience in advising on the importance of retaining a will. We will help you implement a structure to mitigate the potential risks that investing could impose and help arrange will registration at the DIFC Wills Centre. We highly encourage you to do so to avoid having your assets distributed according to Emirati law if that is not your desire. Begin your will registration process with us today. 


Written by

Adrian Oton

Adrian Oton
CEO, Europe Emirates Group


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Wealth Management and Private Banking
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