Dubai: Investors holding free zone assets in Dubai or Ras Al Khaimah can now register their wills online at the world’s first virtual wills registry that goes live from Sunday.

Launched as part of Dubai’s e-government innovation agenda, DIFC Wills and Probate Registry is designed primarily for overseas asset-holders.

The new smart service enables eligible investors living outside of the UAE to create, register, witness and store a will for Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah assets from anywhere in the world.

Going live from October 1, this first-of-its-kind service provides a simple online template for entering details of property assets and Free Zone company shares via the registry’s website.

The draft will can then be registered in real time by video conferencing with a registry officer based in Dubai.

In a break with traditional legal requirements, clients and witnesses no longer need to attend a registration appointment on-site to create a binding legal document.

Speaking about the initiative, Sean Hird, director, DIFC Wills and Probate Registry, said: “The Virtual Registry is a smart government service that for the first time enables global investors and asset owners wanting to register a will to do so from wherever they are in the world.

“We are providing easy access to security and peace of mind, where individuals can easily create a binding and legally valid will completely online that enables them to pass property and shares on to their chosen beneficiaries. In offering this new system, the registry is supporting overseas investors in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah.”

The property will allows those with real estate assets to secure up to five properties in Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah. Likewise, Free Zone company shareholders in both Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah can directly protect up to five shareholdings and guarantee business continuity through the single purpose Free Zone Company Will.

“To date we have registered more than 3,000 wills at the registry. The Virtual Registry is part of our broader strategy to make registering a will accessible to more people and we continue to take significant steps towards this. We have also secured major strategic partnerships with international banks such as Citibank where global investors residing outside of the UAE can utilise easy payment arrangements to the registry,” he added.

The registration cost of a single property will is Dh7,500 and that of two mirror property wills is Dh10,000.

Users can follow the easy step-by-step guide available online. Those who register their will using the online service will have the option to verify their identity documents through a network of over 2,500 identity verification centres worldwide operated by the registry’s partner, VFS Global.

The initiative gives effect to the freedom provided by UAE Personal Status Law which allows non-Muslims the ability to choose in a simple, secure and confidential process what happens to their assets when they pass away — enabling them to take care of tomorrow.

The most number of wills registered to date was by resident and non-resident Indian and British investors, with an increasing number of Chinese, Russian, American and Canadian nationals also utilising the service, a trend which continues to grow.