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Inheritance matters: changes in the legislation of the UAE

Inheritance matters: changes in the legislation of the UAE

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), after long discussions and considerations, has decided to launch the new legislative project, which is called the Register of Wills. For better understanding of such legislative initiative of the governing authorities, it is necessary to comprehend the traditional way of life and the provisions of the law which is applicable in the United Arab Emirates. In fact, the Dubai Register of wills is the legislative act which stipulates the rights of the property owner on its transfer it to his / her heirs.

If formerly the inheritance matters were regulated by local law based on the Sharia, today the rights of ownership and inheritance are protected by the relevant Wills registry. For example, beforehand, while distributing the inheritance assets, the Islamic law provided for that the assets part of the male heirs was much larger than the respective part for women. Besides, the adopted children did not have the right on assets under inheritance. And in the cases when there were no legal heirs, the property passed into the possession of the authorities of the Emirate.

Certainly, non-Muslims, who live in the UAE, had the possibility of making wills under the laws of the country of their primary citizenship, but the implementation of these wills was fairly complicated in practice due to the specifics of the regulations of the country.

Dubai Registry of Will: legal status and features

The Register of Wills, according to its legal jurisdiction, belongs to the judicial system of the Dubai International Financial Centre. At the same time it is the independent entity, which acts as a subsidiary body in the issues of conflict management and dispute resolution. The decisions taken in the Dubai International Financial Center are automatically recognized and enforceable on all the main territory of Dubai.

In accordance with the changes in the legislation base, the owners of the property on the territory of Dubai, including the foreign citizens, are granted the right to make a will and to transfer property within inheritance as according to such will. This legislation is intended to ensure the protection of the property rights and legal certainty in matters of inheritance property and other assets. According to the initiators of the law, it is quite effective and reliable way to dispose property according to your own will, and not according to the traditions and customs of the country.

As related to the foreign citizens, who are owners of movable and immovable property in the United Arab Emirates – a special chamber which deals with the issues of registering wills was created in the Dubai International Financial Centre. A will or a unilateral act of Will of the property owner is made in English and shall be subject to the appropriate registration in the Registry of Wills.

In the case of registering a will in the appropriate official registry, the property owner fully gets free of the additional costs and standard difficulties in matters of inheritance.

Now the legitimate interests of the foreigners, who buy property in the territory of the UAE, are furthermore secured by law in terms of inheritance and guaranteed by the state. All the wills, which were drawn up and duly registered, are obligatory for execution by the courts of the Dubai International Financial Centre. Now, movable and immovable property will be transferred to the heirs in accordance with the will of the testator. Such changes in the existing legislation of Dubai have become another step of the Government of the UAE towards the developed market relations and development of the national economy and the country's attractiveness for investments.

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