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UAE Inheritance Law For Muslim Expats

It is important to know the UAE Inheritance Law for Muslim expats if you are a Muslim planning to move to the country with your family.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), along with other states in the Middle East, uses the precepts of Sharia Law as a basis for developing and controlling its numerous policies, laws, and regulations.

This is similar to how other governments in the region use Sharia Law. It’s possible that some areas of expats’ life will be significantly altered as a result of this occurrence. In the topic of inheritance, the Sharia Law includes some restrictions that apply to the disposition of an individual’s belongings after their death.

These regulations focus primarily on inheritance. Up until a very recent period in time, these restrictions of inheritance were applicable to all persons, including those who had left the country but followed the religion of Islam as well as those who did not consider themselves to be Muslims.

It is possible that this circumstance will provide difficulties for expats who have expressed a wish to prohibit the distribution of their assets in accordance with Sharia Law. This is one of the potential difficulties that might develop from this scenario.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has, in recent years, made substantial changes to its inheritance law, which has resulted in a framework that is more progressive and favorable for expats living in the nation.

Despite this, expatriates are obligated to take necessary precautions in order to protect their families and their properties.

If you have any questions or want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use these contact options.

This article isn’t legal or any other kind of advice. If you want that, you should go to a UAE-regulated legal firm.

UAE Intestate Succession

When a person dies away without leaving a legal will, the process of accessing and transferring their wealth becomes exceedingly difficult for the persons who survive them since it requires them to get court judgments

This is because the estate must be distributed according to the laws of the state in which the deceased individual resided.

As a direct result of this, substantial financial issues and inexcusable delays in the completion of tasks are brought about.

Because of this, it is strongly suggested that people write their wills while they are still alive in order to save their loved ones from the possible suffering that they would experience in the event that they pass away without a will.

In spite of this, the legal system that governs the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has laws that address the distribution of an individual’s possessions in the event that they pass away without having left a will or other testamentary instrument that is recognized by law.

Option for Non-Muslim Expats

Because Muslims are required to conform to the precepts of Sharia law, while non-Muslims adhere to their own personal legal framework, the inheritance laws in the country display a clear distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Alternately, non-Muslim persons who are expatriates have the option of adopting the inheritance laws of their place of origin in the country from where they originated.

In addition, since they will soon have their own distinct legal codes in place, several provisions of the Civil Transactions Law from 1985 will once again be applicable to the situation.

UAE Inheritance Law for Muslims

There are about 40 different articles that make up the Sharia law norms that govern inheritance. These restrictions are quite detailed and thorough.

UAE Inheritance Law For Muslim Expats
An expat family walking around UAE.

When determining the assets that belonged to a Muslim after their death, it is vital to take into consideration a number of different variables before detailing the laws.

After all of the deceased person’s last expenditures, including burial costs and any lingering commitments, have been paid for, the next step in the inheritance process is to figure out who gets what.

In the case that the deceased person left behind a will when they passed away, the terms that were detailed in the will would, for the most part, control the distribution of their assets. In the event that certain assets are still unassigned, such assets will be parceled up in line with the tenets of Sharia law after some time has passed.

It is not acceptable for a testator to designate more than one-third of their assets in their testamentary document since that amount is the most that is allowed under the legal regulations.

In addition, the persons to whom the testator may assign their bequests are subject to specific restrictions. These restrictions might be rather restrictive.

In the absence of a testamentary instrument, the distribution of assets is solely determined by the principles and requirements of Sharia law. This is the case whether or not the deceased person had any assets, to begin with.

In order to properly determine who the heirs are, you need the presence of two male witnesses and the presentation of documented proof.

In accordance with Islamic law, those who do not self-identify as Muslims are not qualified to receive an inheritance from individuals who do self-identify as Muslims.

In the event that one person deliberately brings about the death of another person in order to get an advantage from their assets, then the person who caused the death of the other person shall not be entitled to inherit any share of those assets.

Forced Heirship

A legal provision known as “forced heirship” requires that a portion of the assets that belonged to a person who has passed away be distributed to the people who have been designated as their heirs.

The act of disinheriting one’s kids is seen to be illegal when viewed through the lens of the idea of forced heirship.

Therefore, children are endowed with a legally protected claim to inherit a part of their parent’s assets, regardless of any declared purpose in the testator’s Will to exclude them from such inheritance.

This is the case even if the testator’s Will expresses the intention to disinherit the children from such inheritance.

Furthermore, in the terrible event that your kids pass away before your own death, it is conceivable for your grandchildren to gain beneficiary rights in line with the legislation related to Forced Heirship within the state.

This would be the case if your offspring passed away before you did.

Distribution of Inheritance

Certain beneficiaries are entitled to a preset percentage of the assets, as stated in Article 321 of the Act, assuring their inclusion in the assets, unless they are totally non-existent.

This is the case even if they do not exist at all. The previously indicated group of persons is guaranteed to get their allotments first, regardless of whether or not this distribution uses up the whole of the estate and leaves nothing for the other categories of beneficiaries to receive.

The distribution of shares is preset and is done in the form of fractions such as one-half, one-fourth, one-eighth, two-thirds, one-third, one-sixth, and one-third of the remaining part of the whole.

The distribution of these shares takes place in accordance with the criteria provided in Articles 322 to 328, with certain conditions being taken into consideration.

A particular portion of the inheritance will go to the following:

Half of the Inheritance

  • In the event that the woman does not have any offspring, the husband will be taken into consideration.
  • In the event that there were no further children born to the person who passed away, the daughter.
  • In the absence of a child or grandchild who had a closer connection to the dead, the daughter of the son, or any of his descendants, will take care of the estate.
  • In the event that the dead had no other living siblings or offspring, the germane sister, as well as the deceased person’s father or paternal grandfather, is the next of kin.
  • If the consanguine sister does not have any brothers or sisters, offspring, or the dead person’s father or paternal grandparents, then she is qualified to inherit.

One-fourth of the Inheritance

  • In the event that the wife has a child, the husband will be taken into consideration.
  • In the case that the husband does not have any descendants, the wife’s children will be taken into consideration, regardless of how many there are.

One-eighth of the Inheritance

  • In the case that the husband is successful in producing a descendent, the wife, regardless of the number of their offspring, gets a share.

Two-thirds of the Inheritance

  • If there are no male children of the deceased, two or more female children are considered.
  • In the case where there is neither a son nor a grandson of equal degree, as well as a grandchild of a higher degree, two-thirds of the inheritance would go to two or more daughters of the deceased son or his descendants.
  • It would go to two or more germane sisters in the event that the deceased did not have any germane or consanguineous brothers, descendants, fathers, or paternal grandfathers.
  • In the event that the deceased has no pertinent or consanguineous brothers, germane sisters, descendants, fathers, or paternal grandfathers, consideration may be given to two or more consanguine sisters.

One-third of the Inheritance

  • In the event that the person who passed away did not have any direct kids, siblings, or other immediate family members, the mother plays a key role in concerns related to inheritance or legal problems.
  • In the event that the deceased individual did not have any children, father, or paternal grandfather, the inheritance is divided equally between any two or more of the deceased person’s mother’s children.
  • The paternal grandfather, provided that he is in agreement with more than two consanguine siblings and that there are no forced heirs.

One-sixth of the Inheritance

  • If the father agrees with a descendant, he will get a share of the inheritance
  • The grandfather of the father, according to Article 327(2) of the law
  • The mother, along with two or more descendants of siblings and sisters
  • If not disqualified from the inheritance, one or more grandmothers.
  • One or more daughters of the son or his descendants, with a single consanguine daughter or a single son’s daughter in a higher degree, if the deceased has no son or grandson of equal or higher degree.
  • One or more consanguine sisters, along with a germane sister, if the deceased has no descendant, father, paternal grandfather, brother, or consanguine brother.
  • The deceased’s lone uterine brother or sister, if there is no father or paternal grandfather, according to the law’s Article 347.

One-third of the Remaining Inheritance

  • The deceased person’s mother, spouse, and father, in the event that there are no children or two or more siblings of the deceased person.
  • The paternal grandfather of the deceased person, if he has a forced heir and more than two brothers or more than two consanguine or germane sisters, and he would like to receive a one-third portion of the inheritance rather than a one-sixth share of the inheritance.

In the case that the assets continue to be underutilized after the distribution that was made to the obligated heirs, then they will be distributed among the beneficiaries who are considered to be residuary.

In the event that there are no residuary heirs, the assets that are left over will be fairly divided up and given to the forced heirs in proportions that are equal to one another.

In the event that there are no forced or residuary heirs, the assets will be divided up among the extended family members.

In the case that the deceased person did not have any beneficiaries who were authorized to receive their assets, the government will be the recipient of such assets.

UAE Inheritance Law For Muslim Expats

In November 2020, President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan enacted adjustments to the existing UAE Inheritance Law for Muslim expats (Article 1 of Law No. 30 of 2020), with the intention of providing expats greater liberty in deciding the postmortem administration of their property.

UAE Inheritance Law For Muslim Expats
A Muslim family in UAE.

These amendments were made in order to fulfill the goal of President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

An expatriate has the ability to exercise their choice, in accordance with the legal laws, to distribute their assets either in accordance with their own personal wants or in compliance with the inheritance regulations of their country of origin by means of the execution of a will.

This choice may be exercised either in accordance with their own personal desires or in accordance with the inheritance regulations of their country of origin.

Despite the fact that the preceding law offered a few exceptions, it had a number of unclear provisions that did not give a full exemption from the application of Sharia Law.

When an individual dies outside of their home country without a validly drafted will, they run the risk of having their estate subject to the laws provided in Sharia Law.

In the end, the court system will have to decide how the deceased person’s belongings and assets should be divided up among their heirs and beneficiaries. During the course of their worldwide assignments, expatriates could run across a variety of difficulties.

Freezing of Accounts

Both bank and investment accounts will be subjected to a temporary suspension of transactions in preparation for the legal judgment on the equitable distribution of assets.

This measure is taken in anticipation of the judicial ruling. Even in situations in which a surviving spouse is designated as a joint account holder, it is possible for this scenario to play out, which may result in the surviving spouse losing access to financial resources.

Prioritizing Male Family Members

Under Sharia law, it is conceivable for a family’s wealth to be distributed among the male members of the family; however, a wife may only be entitled to a portion of the inheritance.

Custody of Children

When it comes to questions of guardianship, Sharia law dictates that primary custody of children should typically be awarded to the biological father.

In the case that the father passes away, it is normal practice for the mother to maintain custody of the child(ren), however, this typically only lasts until the child reaches the age of 11 for boys and 13 for girls.

In spite of this, it is common practice for a male relative to be appointed as the designated guardian in situations like these.

There is a possibility that the woman’s capacity to engage in a later marriage will be restricted as a result of the provisions of this arrangement.

The creation of a testamentary document that is enforceable under the law and is known as a will may, thankfully, help reduce the problem that was previously described.

It is highly recommended that expats who are currently residents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) draft a thorough will that details their arrangements for a child or elderly guardianship, as well as their financial assets, real estate holdings, and business interests. This will also be a complete document.

Why Expats Should Register a Will in UAE

Whether one is moving to the UAE for work reasons, retiring in the UAE, or reevaluating one’s estate planning, the usage of a will is of the highest significance in protecting one’s family and one’s property.

This is true whether one is moving to the UAE for employment purposes or retiring in the UAE. Even if the process for registering a will in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is uncomplicated, it is still recommended that you get legal advice from an experienced expert.

This will ensure that your will is in accordance with all of the requirements. The existence of inaccuracies in a will document may result in a number of problems, each one of which can be extremely difficult for a family that is mourning the loss of a loved one.

During the difficult process of coming to terms with the loss of a family member, it is of the utmost importance to make sure that your loved ones do not have to deal with the additional stress of worrying about their future.

How to Make a Will and Register It in the UAE

It is possible that the process of writing a will in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) might be described as being quite uncomplicated.

UAE Inheritance Law For Muslim Expats
Expats enjoying their life in UAE.

Wills do not need to be registered with the government in the United Arab Emirates since there is no need for this under local law.

Nevertheless, participating in this technique may successfully prevent any complications or delays that may develop during the execution of the will, which is often a process that results in a financial burden being placed on the beneficiaries.

The Dubai Courts and the Dubai International Financial Centre (abbreviated as DIFC) are the two principal institutions in Dubai that are in charge of registering wills and other testamentary documents.

The civil legal system that is in operation throughout the territory of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is represented by the Dubai Courts.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is home to its very own independent legal system, and it is located inside one of the free economic zones that have been declared by the United Arab Emirates.

Because this jurisdiction has the essential jurisdictional authority to apply the principles of international law, it is recommended that people who live outside of the country register their wills with the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

The Process of Registering a Will at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

Step 1: Seeking Legal Guidance

Consider engaging the services of a lawyer who is authorized by the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), if deemed necessary.

Although it is not obligatory to engage the services of legal counsel, it is strongly advised to do so. Professionals in the field have the expertise to provide guidance throughout the process, therefore ensuring the legal enforceability of the drafted will.

Step 2: Crafting the Will

This involves the process of choosing the specific kind of will and generating a preliminary version.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) provides provisions for the registration of five distinct categories of wills, namely Full, Property, Guardianship, Financial Assets, and Business Owner wills.

The Comprehensive Will encompasses the whole of an individual’s possessions and addresses matters pertaining to guardianship.

The remaining four may be customized to suit certain forms of inheritance. The document should include the identification of beneficiaries, stipulations about guardianship, and a comprehensive enumeration of assets encompassed by the will.

Step 3: Booking an Appointment with DIFC Courts

Scheduling an appointment with the DIFC Courts involves filing an online request. At this juncture, it is essential that you fulfill the obligation of remitting the registration payments.

The cost associated with registering a will is contingent upon the specific form of will that has been chosen. The prices vary between AED5,000 and AED15,000.

Step 4: Attending the Court Appointment

Attend the scheduled court appointment, ensuring the presence of two witnesses. It is essential to carry an unsigned version of the will draft, an Emirates ID, and evidence of payment for the registration costs. The duration of the session should be limited to a range of 45 minutes to one hour.

Final Thoughts

After the new UAE Inheritance Law for Muslim expats was passed into law in the country, there has been a significant sea shift in the country’s inheritance practices.

Even if it was subservient to Islamic or Sharia Law in the past, the notion of the will continued to have a certain degree of relevance. This was true in the past.

This was especially important information for foreign residents who practiced Islam as their religion and were living in the country.

Even if it were wanted, it is impossible to ensure that family members would get a fair share of an individual’s assets and inheritance after that individual has passed away.

Sharia law was used to determine who would be a child’s legal guardian. However, with the implementation of the updated UAE Inheritance Law for Muslim expats, the value of your will has greatly risen. This is due to the fact that you will now take full advantage of the changes.

It may now be possible to use the creation of a last will and testament as a mechanism to guarantee that a person’s assets and estates are dispersed in line with the wishes they had originally intended.

This could also make it easier to put domestic laws into effect, particularly those that deal with the distribution of resources within an individual’s place of birth.

In order to get direction and aid in navigating the many legal procedures that are involved in the creation of a will, it is highly recommended to retain the services of an experienced legal practitioner.

It is possible to lessen the likelihood of making serious mistakes that might put one’s inheritance in danger if one takes the initiative to seek the advice of industry professionals.

Wills written by persons who lack the requisite license have the potential to give rise to misunderstandings about the wishes of the deceased person.

In order to have a valid will ready in a timely way, it is highly recommended to make use of the services of trained professionals like ourselves who are in this line of work.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is not an exception to the general trend of substantial developments being made across the world community.

At the current time, those who are thinking of visiting, settling down in, or investing in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) would be wise to do so since the conditions there are favorable.

In rural locations, people of all different religious affiliations have the opportunity to live a life free of tension and anxiety.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.



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