The DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (the Registry) has registered a total of 650 wills this past year, showing the positive response the initiative has received in Dubai.
Launched in May 2015, the Registry provides non-Muslim expatriates with legal certainty and the ability to register English language wills covering Dubai estates that allow their assets to be transferred upon death according to their wishes.
The positive uptake shown since the inception of the Registry reinforces its status as a much needed and unique solution for non-Muslims with assets in Dubai.
The registrants represent a wide section of Dubai’s expat community - of the 650 registered wills, the majority of registrants are from Europe making up 55% of the registrants, 27% are from India and the rest of the registrants are expats from across the world including Asia, Africa and the Americas.
Around 70% of the wills registered were executed by both husbands and wives.
This number has significantly increased over the past few months, reflecting families’ increased awareness of how important it is to protect their wealth and their family and children. Not only does the Registry give the necessary comfort and security sought by families, but it makes an important contribution to Dubai’s larger value offering as a destination for investment and a secure environment.
Mihaela Moldoveanu, Senior Manager at the Registry, said: “We are delighted to have reached the 650 mark over such a short period of time, and see it as a reward for the hard work we have put in. Scores of New Year’s resolutions revolve around better organization, making people consider succession planning as part of their overall assets protection. Our novel app platform launched today and a doubled capacity for will registrations from mid-January onwards is our response to rising demand.
“Moving forward, we wish to make sure that the Registry becomes an optimal succession solution for expats with assets in Dubai and that we provide excellent service. Additionally, we encourage people with a Dubai estate, who consider making a will, to seek professional legal advice to draft their wills, as this is an important legal document. Thereafter, they can make use of our online platform to book their will registration appointment in a few simple clicks,” said Moldoveanu.
Amna Al Owais, Deputy CEO of the Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA), the DIFC’s umbrella body for dispute settlement and centre for legal excellence, added: “The Registry introduced another unique and ground-breaking legal initiative, in line with Dubai’s and the wider UAE’s drive towards innovation. Our succession solution will hopefully impact people’s livelihoods in a positive way and on a wide scale. Not only do we embody innovation in our day-to-day operations, but the launch of our new mobile app makes the booking process very easy at all times. It is yet another demonstration of our efforts to support the country’s vision and drive for ingenuity, to simplify the lives of the Dubai residents and investors.”
Alastair Glover, Principal Associate, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP added: “As a firm, we are very pleased to see that the uptake for will registrations in the first eight months has been so strong. The numbers are impressive and reflect our own experience, but they are not surprising. The Registry satisfies the demand for an effective succession planning solution for both Dubai assets and the care arrangements of minor children. Prior to the establishment of the Registry, the lack of certainty surrounding the Dubai estate caused many families great unease. For our clients who have chosen to base themselves in Dubai, the relief and peace of mind they get from registering their wills with the Registry is very apparent.
“As lawyers, we are equally happy to be able to offer this service to our clients as part of their succession planning arrangements. One of the things that has impressed us most during the Registry’s infancy is the way in which it has established itself as an effective interface between the public, industry professionals and government departments. We believe that this is central to the continuing success of the Registry in the next six months and beyond.”
The Registry has achieved a number of accomplishments in its first year. Most recently, the Registry signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Dubai Land Department and the Department of Economic Development, to allow for a straightforward probate process when transferring a person’s property to their chosen beneficiaries.
The Registry is launching today a new state of the art mobile application called ‘DIFC Wills’ which allows a swift and simple appointment booking system through the mobile phone, for a seamless booking experience. Another benefit of the app is to also allow lawyers to access the appointment calendar for their clients, as well as to consult the Registry Rules in a few clicks, directly from their mobile phones.
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