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Expat Wills

Revealed: Expats in 20s get wills done in Dubai

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Families with young children more sensitive to early succession planning

DUBAI Non-Muslim expats as young as their 20s and 30s are getting their wills registered to cover their Dubai assets and estates, XPRESS can reveal.

Mihaela Moldoveanu, senior manager at the Dubai International Financial Centre’s Wills and Probate Registry (WPR), said the eight-month-old registry’s records show that the youngest non-Muslim testator in Dubai is just 23 years old. There were 22 others in the age group of 23-35.

Launched in May 2015, the registry allows non-Muslims for the first time in the region to register a will in English and enable them to transfer assets as per their wishes, laws, customs and traditions upon their death. Earlier, the distribution of assets of a deceased expat was guided only by UAE federal laws such as Personal Status Law, Civil Transactions Code and by public order.

Moldoveanu said 650 wills had been registered at the WPR so far, of which 95 per cent were by non-Muslim expats between 40 and 64 years. While 55 per cent were from Europe, 27 per cent were from India. Seventy per cent were by both husband and wife.

Succession planning

Commenting on the rising numbers of young expats registering wills, she said: “A significant portion of the people registering wills with us are young to mid-aged individuals. Succession planning is an essential element of a person’s overall assets protection and future planning, and it is never too early to start thinking of having right protection mechanisms in place in the event of an unfortunate occurrence. Especially families with young children and expats who moved away from their home country for the first time may be more sensitive to succession planning at an earlier stage in their life, whilst living far away from their extended families and from the familiar structures of their home country.”

She said the WPR aims to provide the legal certainty and peace of mind to eligible individuals who wish to opt for a Common Law English language system to transfer their assets according to the wishes in the event of their death.

Cynthia Trench, Principal of Trench & Associates Legal Consultants, who has helped over 150 testators have their wills done at the WPR, said, “There are a number of high networth individuals from different countries, who have invested heavily in Dubai real estate, and have begun registering wills at the WPR. The process is streamlined and clear-cut.

“We applaud DIFC for the implementation of this new set of laws and regulations to help non-Muslims to bring their assets into Dubai and safeguard their Dubai assets for their loved ones.”

An Indian in her late 20s who plans to get a will drafted said, “Getting a will done has nothing to do with one’s age. Death is unpredictable and can strike at any time. My parents have a few properties here and some of them are in my name. So it makes sense that I get a will done to protect my assets.”

Doubts removed

Graham Martins, a professional accountant in his 50s, said, “One can never foresee the future and making a will as soon as possible is essential. I’ve had a will from my country of origin for many years that referred to my assets in Dubai but there has always been the element of doubt as to its relevance or applicability here in the event of my passing. Conflicting views were aplenty, each with a case to support them. So the only test would be too late for me.”

He said, “The advent of the WPR has been a major step forward in providing an enhanced level of certainty for expats with respect to their Dubai-based assets and for their dependents. This is particularly the case for longer term expatriates such as myself who now have accumulated assets here. In addition, it will encourage expatriates to hold assets within Dubai rather than have the “send it out of the country” approach which, hitherto, many may have done.”

Sanjeev Sury, 56, another testator, said: “My motivation for making a will was for my wishes to be carried out in line with my country’s principles of testamentary freedom, instead of another heirship regime potentially applying to my succession.

“In the absence of a will, sorting out the distribution of my estate would possibly entangle my family into a lengthy procedure, involving travels of family members from abroad … Unfortunately, many misconceptions still exist in Dubai as to what constitutes a will, and how complex the process can be, especially if the main provider of an expat family passes away without leaving a will. The safety and peace of mind I now have extends to both my assets and my family members, including our minor children’s guardianship appointments.”

DIFC Wills App

Amna Al Owais, Deputy CEO of the Dispute Resolution Authority, said the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry last week launched a new mobile application called DIFC Wills will provides a simple appointment booking system for getting wills registered. It also allows lawyers to access the appointment calender and consult registry rules in few clicks from their mobile phones.

Publish date: 29/08/16 14:49
Source: News Xpress, Published on 20 January 2016

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