Options to Protect the Ownership of Real Estate in Dubai

Options to Protect Ownership of Real Estate in Dubai - TWS Legal Consultants (1)

“The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” ― John F. Kennedy, former U.S. President

Legacy planning is something every parent or spouse should consider if they want to ensure the smooth transfer of their assets to their desired beneficiary. If you are an expat who owns real estate in Dubai, you need to ensure your assets are secure and handled the right way in the unfortunate event of your demise. In the UAE, if you do not have a Will in place, Sharia law will be applied to the distribution of your property. 

With the Dubai real estate market booming and property valuations steadily increasing, every expat property owner should secure their investment by drafting a Will that dictates who inherits their properties and other assets. Planning ahead not only diminishes the legal risks and hassles but also provides peace of mind for your loved ones in such troubled times.

How You Can Protect Your Assets in the UAE?

i) A DIFC Will

The establishment of the DIFC Courts Wills Service gives non-Muslims investing and living in the UAE the option to pass on their assets and/or appoint guardians for their children, in accordance with the instructions in their Will.

The DIFC Courts Wills Service Centre allows non-Muslim expatriates to create Wills under similar laws to the jurisdiction of England and Wales and provides the freedom to distribute their assets as they wish.

ii) An Abu Dhabi Will

The Abu Dhabi Courts Judicial Department has created the Abu Dhabi Wills Registry to provide an option for non-Muslims with assets in Abu Dhabi/UAE and/or children to opt out of Sharia law and to register their alternative wishes.

iii) Gifting Transfer of Property

Gift your children or spouse your property. Gifting immediate family members real estate attracts a much lower transfer fee of 0.125% of the deemed value of the property. Property transfers otherwise attract a transfer fee of 4%. 

iv) Transferring the assets to a holding company or Trust

Property and assets can be transferred into a holding company or a trust which removes it from your ownership.

A holding company is a separate legal entity.  You can become the main shareholder in the company, meaning you still have control over the property and/or assets it holds.

v) Setting up Foundations

Foundations are legal entities which can hold wealth and assets on behalf of beneficiaries. Investors or residents of the UAE can structure their assets through a Foundation. There are several advantages of a DIFC or ADGM Foundation, including:

  • No corporation tax
  • Solid governance structure
  • The founders and beneficiaries’ identities remain confidential
  • Low set up costs

Why do you need to prepare a Will in the UAE? 

  1. To protect the Guardianship of your Children by nominating both permanent and temporary Guardians
  2. To protect property, you own – UAE Law applies to real estate owned by expatriates in the UAE and is an exception to the home country laws applying to inheritance matters. You are in control of your assets and to whom they go as opposed to under Sharia Law where the distribution of assets is fixed.
  3. You have the freedom to distribute your assets as you wish– you can make specific gifts, ie to a charity. You can stipulate your wishes which is not an option under home country laws.
  4. As a business owner, it’s very important to consider business succession planning as part of the Wills process.  
  5. By having a valid Will in the UAE from a practical perspective the Courts will be able to deal with the distribution of your assets, bank accounts etc with ease post-death as there is evidence of your intentions.
  6. Avoid family disputes and costly court battles – ULTIMATELY – gives you PEACE OF MIND, that if the inevitable happens, your estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes.

TWS Legal Consultants can guide you through the processes of drafting a Will, property gifting, transfer of property ownership and also setting up a DIFC / ADGM Foundation to protect your assets. We have over a decade of UAE experience in safeguarding our clients’ assets. 

Now is the time to talk to us.

Please contact our office at info@twslegal.ae or call +971 4 448 4284.

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