If you own property and bank accounts jointly with a spouse, ownership would not automatically pass to the survivor, writes Shannon Herriot, DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre
To some a morbid subject…to others too taboo to discuss openly…and then there are those that simply see the discussion around such matters as…life admin. Many people feel uncomfortable when it comes to writing or registering their wills.
At the DIFC Courts, we typically hear from those who do come to register that initially when they find the time to sit down and address how they want to distribute their worldly possessions, it is an odd conversation, even if it’s clear in their heads.
I imagine some of you are working this scenario through in your minds as you read: let’s jump right in – you will want to ensure that your children will be looked after until they can stand on their own feet. You want your parents looked after when they can no longer support themselves. Property, shares, bank accounts, cars, jewelry — all need to play a role in securing this future.
Against this backdrop, DIFC Resolution No. 4/2014 was issued to allow the establishment of the DIFC Wills Service Centre (WSC) to enable non-Muslims who were investing and living in the UAE to pass on their assets and appoint guardians for their children in line with their wishes through a Will registration service.
Before we launched the Wills Service in 2015, one of the major concerns for non-Muslim residents and investors in the UAE was that there was no concept of the right of survivorship in the UAE.
In fact, some were even unaware until they considered having a will that if they own property and bank accounts jointly with their spouse, ownership would not automatically pass to the survivor.
Many expatriates from countries like the UK, Canada, the US, India and Australia, were used to common law inheritance systems, where they could choose who would receive their assets upon their death or would otherwise automatically pass to their spouse.
Dubai Law No. 15/2017 was issued in 2017 in order to fast-track enforcement of probate orders through the DIFC and Dubai Courts. It ensures probate orders follow the same system of execution in the Dubai Courts as is successfully used for all other DIFC Courts Orders.
So, what kind of Wills are am I referring to? This DIFC Courts service offers five different types of wills:
Once you have decided which will you need, consider taking legal advice in its preparation. Certain minimum requirements must be met for a will to be registerable and if these are not in place, it would be unenforceable. To find a suitable lawyer, the Wills Service publishes a list of legal practitioners that have met certain minimum standards in relation to their knowledge of the rules and the drafting of DIFC wills.
The DIFC Courts also provides an online automated will drafting service for the Property Will, Business Owners Will and Financial Assets Will, with comprehensive explanatory notes, should you wish to draft the will yourself. To draft a Full Will yourself you can download the minimum requirements document from our website.
You can make an appointment online or via the mobile app to register and pay the booking fee. When attending your appointment, you need to bring two witnesses with their ID’s, your unsigned draft will, Emirates ID, passport and proof of payment.
There is also an option to use a Virtual Registry for the Property Will, Business Owners Will and Financial Assets Will, which allows those living overseas to create and register a DIFC will. Investors and former residents can access it from anywhere in the world and be connected, via video link, to a compliance officer sitting in Dubai.
With the global COVID-19 pandemic affecting movement of people in recent weeks, the DIFC Courts has also now developed and introduced a new system for the registration of Full Wills via video conferencing, enabling the service to be accessed remotely from your smartphone, tablet or desktop devices and from the comfort of your home.
The new system now allows the Testator and two (2) Witnesses to join in on the video conferencing call from different locations. The system also allows an approved Will to be directly uploaded on the system and to affix electronic signatures.
Once your will is completed and registered, it is stored as an encrypted file for 120 years from your date of birth on the DIFC Courts System and can be updated for a nominal fee should you wish to make amendments.
The point to understand is that the will is not for you — it’s for the benefit of other people. Your loved ones are not required to do guesswork on what your wishes were, or to go through lengthy and costly court procedures and no-one else gets to superimpose their views on how you want your assets distributed.
– Shannon Herriot is the Manager and Senior Compliance Officer at the DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre
Source: Arabian Business