More expats execute wills to protect assets, savings in Dubai

A growing number of expatriates and investors in Dubai are taking legal steps to ensure their assets in the country, as well as their savings and other investments, are distributed according to their wishes after they’re gone.

The DIFC Wills & Probate Registry (W&PR) reported on Monday that a total of 1,000 wills have been drafted so far since March 2015.  Topping the list of will registrants are UK nationals (30 per cent) and Indians (27 per cent), also considered the leading investors in Dubai’s real estate.

Property buyers from the United Kingdom and India poured Dh10 billion and Dh20 billion, respectively, in Dubai’s real estate in 2015, just behind the investments made by nationals from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region.

The majority of the wills registered last year were executed by couples, highlighting the need for partners to make provisions for the handling of shared assets.

Sean Hird, the new director of the DIFC Wills  and Probate Registry, said there has been a steady increase in demand for wills across the year, with a growing number of   Russians, Pakistanis and French, among others, seeking to protect their assets.

“People opt in to a system that gives them this freedom to choose how to dispose of their assets. We at DIFC Wills & Probate Registry have been really successful at knocking down the barriers to making wills, for example through simplifying complex principles into a standardised set of rules that are easily understood by legal professionals the world over,” Hird told Gulf News.

Expatriates have been advised to have a will in place, if they want to ensure their  assets in the country, or their final wishes for their wealth, savings or other forms of investments are met. Without a will in place, the Sharia law is said to determine how an expatriate’s estate,in the country will be distributed.

To give non-Muslims investing and living in Dubai the option to secure their assets through a common law will, the Government of Dubai and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts set up the Wills & Probate Registry last year.

Just in time for its first year anniversary, the registry has logged 1,000 wills. Over two-thirds of the wills were executed by both husbands and wives, reflecting the importance placed on protecting mutual assets in Dubai.

“We are delighted to see such demand for our service. Reaching 1,000 registrants is a major step forward in providing people who live and invest in Dubai with the certainty that their wishes as expressed in their wills will be honored and respected,” said Hird.

Single expats and investors are also ensuring their assets will be distributed according to their wishes. According to the registry, the remaining 30 per cent of the wills registered came from unmarried individuals, while 2 per cent were guardianship wills to safeguard children. These numbers highlight the increasing importance residents and people investing in Dubai place on having a will to plan succession as they see fit.

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