Succession in Dubai has always been a sensitive issue for expats. Even though local regulations apparently allow the application of the resident’s national law, the uncertainty of the relevant articles has led local courts to not always grant the foreign treatment over the Islamic Law.


An important number of residents opted to move away their assets through the constitution of offshore companies. ‑e recently established DIFC Wills & Probate Registry addresses many non-Muslim residents’ concerns, such as the certainty of disposing their assets with testamentary freedom, all under the auspices of internationally recognized common law principles. ‑e following chart presents a comparative assessment on the main features of both systems.

ELEGIBLE INDIVIDUALS: DIFC: Non-Muslims with assets in Dubai, not being required to be resident.

AUE Mainland: Nationals and residents irrespective of their religión

ASSETS THAT MAY BE SUJECTED: DIFC: Only those located in Dubai

AUE Mainland: Usually covers assets located in UAE


AUE Mainland: The one preferred by the Testator, as long as is later translated into Arabic.

FORMAL REQUIEREMENTS DIFC: Present the will in writing, in front of and witnessed by the Director or an Authorized O­cer and another witness Signed by the Testator Appoint Executors or a Guardian if necessary Testator expressly states his intention to apply the DIFC W&P Registry Rules and DIFC Law.

AUE Mainland: The will must be in writing. It has to be signed by the Testator and requires the presence of two witnesses of legal age that cannot be in any case beneficiaries of the will | Appointment of Executors and a Guardian if necessary | The will must be attested by a Notary Public or a Dubai Court.


AUE Mainland: UAE Notary Public

COST: DIFC: 10.000 AED per one will – 15.000 AED per two Mirror DIFC Wills (spouses) – 500 AED per modification.

AUE Mainland: – 2.000 AED per will – 1.500 AED translation cost per Will.

APPLICABLE REGULATION: DIFC: The DIFC Wills & Probate Rules and the DIFC Law.

AUE Mainland: Depends on the conflict of laws regulations. Usually the law of the home country of the deceased.

EXECUTORS’ FUNCTIONS AND POWERS: DIFC: The applicability of the common law principles determines the absence of any limitations to the testator.

AUE Mainland: Islamic Law may be declared applicable, especially in cases involving immovable assets. As a consequence of such application, testamentary limitations shall be considered.

TESTAMENTARY LIMITATIONS: DIFC: The applicability of the common law principles determines the absence of any limitations to the testator. Should be highlighted: The Executors shall have all the powers conferred by the will, the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry Rules and the laws of the DIFC | Subject to the terms of the will, – the Executors shall have all the powers of an absolute owner | Can continue the business or trade in interested partnerships, companies or business organizations | Exercise the right of an absolute owner with respectto stocks and securities | May employ agents and delegate in writing any functions which the laws ofthe DIFC or the will permit to be delegated | The Executors cannot intervene on properties whose administration has been specifically assigned to another person.

AUE Mainland: Register the death at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages through the submission of the previously obtained medical certificate | Notify any interested parties of the death. For example, a relative or a counterparty in a contract | Have access to the will and make copies for the interested parties | Prove the validity of the will through a Grant of Probate | Organize and proceed to the payment of all liabilities of the testator | Arrange any specific request in the will concerning the funeral and pay the resulting expenses. Distribute the remaining following the desires of the testator | Endeavor to comply with any other petition stated in the will.