Despite owning large amounts of property and other wealth, 99% of non-Muslim expats in Dubai are not protected by an enforceable Will
Dubai, UAE, October 22, 2018: A stark warning has been issued that up to 99% of overseas residents who’ve built up significant wealth during their years in Dubai are taking major risks by not seeking protection through a recognised and enforceable Will.
Sean Hird, Director of the DIFC Wills Service Centre believes that property, cash, stocks and other assets worth tens of billions of dirhams are owned by Dubai expats. But little more than 1% have taken the simple step of registering a Will that can be enforced in Dubai.
Mr. Hird’s statement comes as HSBC’s 2018 Expat Explorer Survey shows that expats who use the bank typically earn 40% more than in their previous jobs, have invested heavily in property and have accumulated significant savings since moving to Dubai.
Mr Hird said: “Most senior expats here have built up a lot of wealth. The survey shows that two-thirds of them have been here for more than five years, giving them plenty of time to accumulate tax-free savings, buy property and set up businesses.”
“So I find it alarming that they don’t plan for the unforeseen and ensure that they can decide who will inherit those assets they’ve spent so much time and effort acquiring. They are taking big risks with the futures of their families.”
The HSBC Survey shows that bank customers who responded to questioning earn on average AED 569,380 per year, with more than a fifth doubling their salary by moving to the Emirate. Half have put away savings for their old age and more than half have invested in property, many in the UAE.
The DIFC Wills Service Centre estimates that up to 300,000 of Dubai’s non-Muslims own significant assets. Since its inception three years ago the Wills Service Centre has registered 4,500 Wills, meaning that hundreds of thousands of expats remain subject to UAE Federal Law, which divides assets among family members according to a pre-determined formula governed by sharia precepts.
Only non-Muslim residents and investors in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah can nominate who will receive their property and wealth after death, by taking out DIFC Wills which will be enforced by the courts in both Emirates.