- Latest updates regarding the DIFC Will registration process
Staring from 1st of April 2020 the new DIFC Wills and Probate system allows the Testator and two (2) Witnesses to join in on the video conferencing call from different locations. The system will also allow DIFC Wills and Probate Registry to upload the approved Will directly on the system and to affix electronic signatures.
Based on the new system, all DIFC Will registrations can be booked online. Upon booking the appointment, the testator will have to upload the following documents: Approved draft Will, Clear copy of the Testators’ passport (and Emirates ID if applicable); Clear copy of the witnesses’ ID’s (passport or any other form of ID; front and back if using Emirates ID) and the Signed and dated Guardianship Witness Statements (if applicable).
Once the appointment is booked, an e-mail will be sent to the testator with the detailed information regarding the registration process and the links to the portal and skype meeting. A member of the DIFC Courts IT department will contact the testator twenty minutes before the appointment to assist him in setting up the video conferencing call. The Testator (and witnesses, if joining from another location) will be required to have a Windows PC/Laptop with stable internet connection for the Will Registration meeting. Mobile (3G or 4G) internet connections are not acceptable and will not support the virtual registration meeting. The testator will need to have another touch screen device on hand to complete the electronic signature during the call using either a stylus pen or just finger (e.g. an apple or android touch screen mobile phone or iPad).
- What kind of information is needed from a testator to draft the DIFC Will?
The Legal Consultant/Wills Draftsman has to meet with the testator to see exactly what his perspective is and how he would like to divide his assets. In parallel to this, the testator should mention any other Will ever drafted before and where is it registered to make sure there would be no conflict between the previous and the new Will.
To draft the Will, the Wills Draftsman needs the personal details of the testator (supported by his passport copy); his family tree (family members and dependents); his declaration of Religion; his mental capacity; if he has another Will registered (if yes – where it was registered and if he wants to revoke that Will or not); details of Real Estate Properties (supported by the Title Deeds copy); details of his Bank Accounts; details of the other assets: cars, boat, shares in companies etc.
Once the Wills Draftsman knows all details about the testator and his assets, he would need details about the beneficiaries of the testator and the way how they will inherit.
If the testator has minor child/children – being lineal descendants or adopted (in the United Arab Emirates minor is considered a person under the age of 21), the Wills Draftsman would need all of their details.
In case the minors are living with the testator in Dubai or Ras al Khaimah, he would need to appoint a Guardian for them. The Testator can choose more than one Guardian, but in this situation is mandatory to mention if they will act jointly or separately or if each one of them is required to carry out a specific task.
If the appointed Guardian lives outside Dubai, the testator can appoint an interim guardian who will act until the permanent guardian will arrive in Dubai.
The Guardian as per the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry is the one who cares for all of the minor’s affairs including guarding, protecting, raising, educating and supervising, directing their life, raising them in the best standards. This includes representation of the minor in front of all the United Arab Emirates authorities and the right to sign on behalf of the minor. They also safeguard the minor’s financial interests, managing and investing the inheritance of and all other assets belonging to the minor until the minor reaches the age of majority, as per the United Arab Emirates laws. This may include guardianship of the minor’s property, including the care for all matters relating to the minor’s property, its preservation, management and investment. The Guardian shall have the right, with the Court’s permission, to disburse from the minor’s money to the extent granted to him through the Will by the testator. Guardianship shall also include custodianship.
The testator needs to appoint also an Executor who will be responsible for administering and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries listed in the Will. The Wills Draftsman would need all details about the Executor, supported by his passport copy and Emirates ID copy. The testator can appoint one or more executors. If he chooses to appoint more executors, it will be mandatory to mention if they will act jointly or separately.
3. Can the Will be changed or updated after its Registration with the DIFC WPR?
Yes. The Testator can change or update the Will. For example: In case of the birth or adoption of a child whom the testator wishes to include in his Will as a beneficiary; adding/changing guardian for the minors; changing the beneficiaries; significant changes in the financial status; significant change of laws in the testator home country, impacting the testator’s assets in the United Arab Emirates; death or incapacity of a named executor or trustee; change in assets in the United Arab Emirates (e.g. the testator sold an asset, or he has gifted it to someone else, etc.).
Changing the address or the personal details (contacts) of existing parties to the Will, namely of executors or guardians, do not necessitate a modification to the Will, they are dealt with, as an administrative update to the existing case file, but such changes should be communicated to the registry as soon as they occur, allowing the registry to update the file.
- How about the cost of registration?
The administrative fees, which a testator needs to pay, in the registration day of his Will or his Guardianship, to the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, are as follows:
- Registration of a DIFC Guardianship Will before a registry officer – AED 5,000. “USD 1,360”
- Registration of a DIFC Property Will before a registry officer – AED 7,500 “USD 2,050”
- Registration of a DIFC Business Owners Will before a registry officer – AED 5,000 “USD 1,360”
- Registration of a DIFC Financial Assets Will before a registry officer – AED 5,000 “USD 1,360”
- Registration of a DIFC full Will before a registry officer – AED 10,000 “USD 2,720”
If the testator would prefer to register a Will or a Guardianship, together with his/her wife/husband, the administrative fees will be the following:
- Simultaneous registration of two Mirror DIFC Guardianship Wills (by spouses) before a registry officer –AED 7,500. “USD 2,050”
- Simultaneous registration of two Mirror DIFC Property Wills before a registry officer – AED 10,000 “USD 2,720”
- Simultaneous registration of two Mirror DIFC Business Owners Wills before a registry officer – AED 7,500 “USD 2,050”
- Simultaneous registration of two Mirror DIFC Financial Assets Wills before a registry officer – AED 7,500 “USD 2,050”
- Simultaneous registration of two Mirror DIFC full Wills (by spouses) before a registry officer – AED 15,000 “USD 4,100”
– If the testator prefers to withdraw his Will, the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry will not charge any fee for this.
– The administrative fees are payable in United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) or their equivalent in other currencies at the applicable conversion rates, and as determined by the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, from time to time.
– The administrative fees are subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) at a rate of 5%.
– Payments may be made by using the Wills Service’s online payment facility at the time of making an appointment. Payments can also be made in person in the form of cash, credit card and cheque.
We advise and recommend everyone with Assets and Minors living in the United Arab Emirates to register a DIFC Will. It is the best way to have peace of mind about the future of their loved ones and the distribution of their assets based on their will instead of a forced regulation. It can be very difficult for their families to go on during the time of sorrow with all the alternative routes to get hold of the succession assets and to decide who will take care of their children in the short term and later on for the long term.
Without a Will, it is more likely that the United Arab Emirates Courts – at least at the court of the first instance – will apply general provisions of the forced heirship regulations as per the Sharia rules to everyone in case of death.
It is worth to mention that the United Arab Emirates Courts would not recognize Wills registered or notarized outside of the United Arab Emirates.
Legal Consultants registered with the Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department
Wills Draftmen registred with DIFC Wills and Probate Registry.