Non-Muslims must register wills at DIFC Courts to avoid inheritance issues

I jointly own numerous properties in Dubai with my wife. None of them are mortgaged and it shows on the title deeds that we have so many shares each. If one of us dies how easy or possible is it to just transfer the title to the surviving person? The properties are not held in any companies or free zones, and we both hold full power of attorney on ourselves for any financial transactions. We do have wills, but we were wondering if just transferring the title deeds would be easier than having a will read, and problems with Sharia law. AG, Dubai

All Dubai property is subject to Sharia law upon death. Sharia law is based on a fixed share allocation system for the disbursement of assets and as such it follows that should one of you die, it is not definite that the surviving spouse will automatically gain the share of the deceased. In fact, under Sharia law, a wife is entitled to receive only one eighth of her deceased husband’s estate if there are children. The only way to secure your dying wishes is to organise a will for your Dubai assets via the Dubai International Financial Centre Courts. This will deal with the disbursement of your assets as per your wishes. Please note that if you have made a will in your home country your Dubai assets will not be included. For more information, visit www.difcprobate.ae, where you will get more information including an excellent FAQ section.

Do you know of any homes for sale or apartments in Dubai that will be accessible for wheelchair users? NN, Dubai

Many towers/buildings constructed today have facilities that cater to the needs of the disabled, for example entrances have ramps, obviously there are lifts to all floors and doorways are sufficiently wide enough to accommodate wheelchair users within these buildings.

I am not aware of any specific residential towers that have extra facilities designed specifically for the less able in mind. As this is a clear requisite for you to buy, I am certain that any agency will be able to find a suitable pro­perty. I suspect that just a bit of patience will be required to find the right property.

I’m looking to get an investor residency visa by purchasing a property. Once the property in purchased, how long does it take to get the visa? And how long does it take to purchase a property in Dubai? RP, Dubai

To be considered eligible for a property-related visa, an indivi­dual must own a property that has a value of Dh1 million or more. The property must also be complete (no off-plan) and owned outright and no mortgage finance is allowed. Applications should be made to the Economic Department and Dubai Land Department. Visas are not granted automatically but are subject to case-by-case approval. Applicants must provide the title deed, and the name on this document will be the name issued with the visa. A certificate of good conduct from the police is also required. The visa is valid for two years (renewable). The property-related visa does not permit an individual to work in the UAE, only to reside here. The fees are Dh1,100 for the visa plus an admin fee of Dh410 with an annual licence fee of Dh2,000 per year. The whole process should not take longer than a few weeks.

For emirates other than Dubai, visas are issued for six months (renewable) and in accordance with standard Dubai rules, applicants must undergo a medical examination and must also have Dubai Health Authority-compliant medical insurance.

The transfer process for buying in Dubai can vary depending on whether the seller or buyer has or is requiring finance. In a cash-to-cash transaction, however, the process can take as little as a few days, but in reality most agents allow for 30 to 45 days to conclude the transfer.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for the past 32 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae.

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