Dubai is governed by Sharia law which can create considerable difficulties for the Executors of a deceased who has died owning assets in Dubai (or anywhere else in the United Arab Emirates) (“Dubai”).
As Sharia law provides (in effect) how your Dubai assets are to be distributed upon your death (which are (in effect) forced heirship laws – somewhat similar to the Napoleonic Code in Europe), problems were arising for deceased’s estates when the deceased was as at the date of death domiciled in a Country that does not have forced heirship laws (such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and the USA).
Dubai has now created the Wills & Probate Registry for use by non-Muslims. The Registry now provides a method whereby non-Muslims with assets in Dubai may pass on their assets, but in order to do so you first of all have to make a Will in Dubai (Wills made or drafted outside Dubai generally speaking do not have effect as regards assets in Dubai (but see below) and you have to have assets in Dubai. The Will can only relate to assets in Dubai and anything outside Dubai cannot be included in your Dubai Will. It is therefore very important to make sure that your current UK Will excludes assets in Dubai.
In order for the Will to be registered in the Wills & Probate Registry, an appointment has to be made, and you have to take one witness with you (who must not be a beneficiary of your Will), and your usual identity documents. Fees are payable for the registration of the Will (generally around AED 11,000 (about £2,300)).
In order to register the Dubai Will, the requirements are:
(1) You are not a Muslim and have never been a Muslim;
(2) You are over 21 years of age;
(3) If you want to provide for guardianship of minor children, those children must be living with you in Dubai; and
(4) You must have assets in Dubai.
(5) Your Will must be unsigned when you attend your appointment at the Wills & Probate Registry (you will be signing the Will at the Registry).
If you only own real estate (immovable property) in Dubai, then you can make a Dubai Will that is limited to just such property. Up to five (5) properties can be included in your Dubai Will.
As mentioned you will still have to attend in person the Registry in order to register your Dubai Will even if you do not reside in Dubai.
Your Executors do not have to be resident in Dubai in order to administer your estate.
Upon your death the Dubai Will will be probated through the Dubai International Finance Centre Courts, and the Court judgment will be enforceable with Government Departments and Banks carrying on business in Dubai.
If you do not have a Dubai Will, then ee can arrange for English Grants to be resealed in Dubai.
Please note that the U.A.E. Civil Transactions Code (CTC), Article 17(1) states “Inheritance shall be governed by the law of the deceased at the time of his death.” This would mean that all assets of an expatriate (i.e. someone form the U.K. living in Dubai and dying in Dubai) would, upon his demise, be distributed in accordance with his law of domicile. However Article 17(5) states “The law of the United Arab Emirates shall apply to Wills made by aliens disposing of their real property located in the State.” which means that real estate will be construed under the laws of U.A.E. Furthermore the Central Bank in Dubai has issued regulations requiring all banks to apply Sharia Law.
The courts have utilised Article 2 of the CTC, which states that “the rules and principles of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) shall be relied upon in the understanding, construction and interpretation of these provisions” to support their contention that distribution of real estate should be subject to Sharia Court Orders. The principles of Islam dictate that assets are distributed as per these principles regardless of what is stated in the Will of the deceased, which means that it does not matter what is stated in an Expatriate’s Will, the courts will apply the Sharia principles of forced heirship.
The documents involved to effect the reseal of the U.K. Grant involve:
a) Drafting Powers of Attorney
In order for the Power of Attorney to be drafted, a list of Immediate blood-line relatives to the Deceased – Parents, Spouse, Children, Siblings (please advise gender) will be needed, and then we will advise what the Sharia Law states is the mandatory calculation and distribution of the Deceased’s assets in Dubai.
b) The Power of Attorney needs to be notarised and legalised in the UK (at the UAE Embassy)
If the Power of Attorney has also to be signed and notarised outside the U.K. for example, if an heir is living in Hong Kong, than in such case the Power of Attorney will have to be notarised in Hong Kong, and then unless the Hague Convention allowing an Apostille to be applied, it will have to be legalised in Hong Kong at the UAE Consulate;
c) Submission of the Power of Attorney to the Dubai Sharia Court
d) Arranging for payment by the Bank of the monies situated in the Bank to the intended beneficiary(s).
- Notarised and legalised (by the UAE Embassy in London) of the Death Certificate;
- A copy of the Deceased’s passport and copies of the Blood-line relatives passports;
- Copies of the latest Bank Statement(s), when the prcess involves the closing of bank accounts in Dubai.
If you would like to use our services, we will give you a fixed quote for the cost of doing the work. We operate on a fixed fee basis, although if extra unanticipated work is involved, we may ask for a review. The disbursements are likely to be the local Dubai lawyers fees, and other minor miscellaneous charges – such as £60 to cover postages including overseas postages; the printing costs of £35; the costs of the sealed and certified copy of the Grant – HMCTS for £10; Notarial fees and the cost of the Apostille also have to be taken into account, but these will be paid by the Executors direct to the Notary; as well as legalization coats at the UAE Embassy.
We hope this is helpful to you, and if you have any questions please contact us.
We await hearing from you when you have had a chance to consider the above.
We suggest that if you wish to proceed, that you send us photocopies of all of the relevant documents (including the Grant(s) of Probate, Death certificate, Certificates of Deposit etc) so that we can review matters before advising upon the next step.
For more information, why not give us a call?
01638 713 288
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