Sunday, Jun 21, 2015

Dubai: The response to the new Wills and Probate Registry at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) was “very positive,” according to Mark Beer, the CEO and Registrar at the DIFC Courts.

“It has been extremely busy,” he said, adding that two more staffers were recruited to help register the wills, he told Gulf News. He said appointments to register wills are now fully booked until mid July.

Non-Muslims with properties and investments in Dubai, regardless of whether they have a residency permit or not, began registering their wills at the DIFC on May 4, when the DIFC launched its new Wills and Probate Registry. The registry allow them for the first time in the region to register a will in English under internationally recognised law, which allows them to transfer their assets as they wish upon their death. The new rule also allows parents to appoint a guardian for their children in case of their death.

Before the new inheritance rules were introduced, lawyers said that judges at the court of first instance would apply Sharia to non-Muslims in case of death, since courts didn’t recognise wills from outside the country. When expatriates wanted to apply their home laws, they had to appeal at the court of appeals and court of cassation — which was a long and costly process.

Mihaela Cornelia Moldoveanu, Senior Manager, DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, said no specific nationality dominated among those registering and represented Asia, America and Europe.

“Actually I was very pleased to see that we have people from various nationalities, various continents are coming to register wills. It was a very eclectic group,” she told Gulf News.

“This is a reflective of the cultural diversity of Dubai,” she said.

Last step

Among the people who registered their wills were people living in other emirates of the UAE, but who have investments and own properties in Dubai, Mihaela pointed out.

As for the process, Mihaela points out that DIFC is “practically ... the last step in the process.”

Ideally, people need to seek advice from a legal practitioner in drafting their wills before heading to register them.

After drafting the will and arriving at the DIFC courts to register it, they need to bring in a witness, and an ID. People sign their wills in the presence of the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry officer, who will be the second witness for signing the will.

The time needed to finalise each application is around 90 minutes for each application.

“We aim to reduce potential challenges to the validity of the will by having an official registration process” said Mihaela.

By Jumana Al Tamimi Associate Editor

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