When someone passes away having registered a Will at the DIFC Wills and Probate Registry (the ‘Registry’), it is the responsibility of the person nominated in the Will (the ‘Executor’) to obtain the Order from the DIFC Courts (the ‘Probate Order’) to allow them to administer the estate of the deceased (a process referred to as ‘Probate’).
An application for a Probate Order is made directly to the Registry. After checking the submitted documents, the Registry passes the paperwork to the DIFC Courts and a case file is opened. The documents are then reviewed by the allocated Case Progression Officer and if all is in order, the Probate Order and/or an Order appointing guardians (a ‘Guardianship Order’) are then granted.
If the Probate Order relates to assets outside of the DIFC, and for all Guardianship Orders, the Orders will require an ‘execution stamp’ that is applied by the Dubai Courts. This administrative formality is the same requirement as for all Orders issued by the DIFC Courts and which are to be enforced outside the DIFC. The Executor(s) are then free to administer the estate of the deceased, and take guardianship of children (if applicable) in accordance with the terms of the DIFC Will. The DIFC Courts will also deal with any claims, further applications and objections that may arise during the Probate proceedings.
The entire Probate process is carried out in accordance with the Registry’s rules (the ‘Registry’s Rules’) and all other laws applicable in the DIFC.
The key documents to be used in connection with Probate applications are set out below.
The cost of undertaking Probate through the DIFC Courts is likely to be considerably less than alternative judicial routes. The UAE does not operate a system of estate or inheritance tax, and the only administrative costs that you are likely to incur when completing the Probate process via the DIFC Courts are:
- The Registry’s and DIFC Courts’ fixed fees (which are unconnected to the value of the deceased’s estate);
- Fees of the Dubai Courts for the provision of an execution stamp on Probate Orders, and any associated translation and other incidental costs;
- Fees of the Ras Al Khaimah Courts pursuant to arrangements for the reciprocal recognition of other UAE Court Orders, and
- Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah Land Department fees for the transfer of property (which, in the case of the Dubai Land Department range from 0.125% to 4% of the value of the property depending on the relatedness of the beneficiary to the deceased) and such other government fees that are charged for the transfer of other assets.
In additional to the above fees, the Executor may wish to appoint third party professionals, including lawyers, to assist with the administration process. That would be at the discretion of the Executor and the need would reflect the size and/or complexity of the estate.
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