Currently the distribution of assets in Dubai is guided by the UAE federal law.  This can cause problems for non-Muslims owning assets in the emirate due to the forced heirship provisions in accordance with Sharia Law.  There is no right of survivorship concept in the UAE meaning that where property is owned jointly it does not automatically pass onto the surviving owner which can cause significant problems for investors.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), which is already free to create its own laws and regulatory framework entirely independently from the laws of mainland UAE including its own courts that operate in English has now introduced a wills and probate registry.   This is the first jurisdiction in the region that allows non-Muslim individuals to register a will under internationally recognised Common Law principles.  This will allow individuals to pass on their estates according to their wishes whilst still abiding by UAE laws and respecting cultural and religious diversities in the area.  There is a fee for registration of this will and again in order to start distribution of assets.

There are also other ways to ensure that assets are not only distributed in accordance with an individual’s wish after death, but that these are also offered an increased degree of protection during the individual’s lifetime.  This is most commonly achieved through the use of an offshore company structure or trust.  If you would like further information on the benefits of such a structure one of our advisors would be more than happy to help.

For more information please contact us.