Inheritance law: UAE Courts on the distribution of assets

Personal Law


The primary source of inheritance law in UAE is Sharia Law and on the basis of some Federal Laws that were promulgated. Aside from that, primary laws governing succession are the Civil Law and Personal Law.

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UAE Inheritance Law

inheritance law in UAE can be complicated

The inheritance law in UAE is very extensive and can accommodate everybody regardless of their nationality and religion. Succession for Muslims is governed by Shariah Law where non-Muslims are authorized to select the law of their home country. Shariah Law is capable of further interpretation and alteration.

Impact of the precedents

In addition to that, being civil law jurisdiction, the impact of the precedents is null in comparison to some common law jurisdictions. In comparison to some authorities, UAE doesn’t follow the right of survivorship in which jointly-owned properties will be given to surviving owners and UAE courts have an exclusive authority to decide upon these matters.

Descendants and heirs have the right to claim

The descendants and heirs have the right to claim the deceased’s estate in accordance with Shariah Law for the Muslims. The will’s beneficiaries may claim the estate in case of the non-Muslims if there are legally certified will. In the case of deceased Muslims, the estate will be transferred only to those who are qualified as an heir under the Shariah principles.

Shariah Law principles

The step for courts in case of the Muslim’s death is to determine heirs and reconfirm it through 2 male witnesses with documentary proof like a birth certificate and marriage certificate. Based on the Shariah principles, grandchildren, parents, spouse, children, nieces or nephews, and siblings are considered as heirs to an estate.

What You Should Know about WILL?

A WILL is basically the most common instrument that is used for passing on the assets to inheritors that are chosen by the deceased. It actually details how you want your estate to be distributed after your death.

Aside from dictating who must inherit your assets, a will may also be used for specifying some wishes including specific gifts, executors, and long-term guardians for the children. Other than wills, one may also take recourse when it comes to setting up more strategic plans including more sophisticated offshore solutions or establishing trust.

Why Expats Should Have a WILL in UAE?

For expats living in the UAE, there’s a simple reason to make wills. The official website of the Government of Dubai states that UAE Courts will adhere to the law of Shariah in any situation where there’s no will in place. It means that once you die without any succession plan or will, local courts will examine all your estate and distribute that based on Sharia law. For instance, a wife who has kids will qualify for 1/8 of the deceased husband’s estate. 

Without estate planning or will in place, the distribution will be automatically applied. Every personal asset of the deceased including bank accounts would be frozen until the liabilities were discharged. Even the shared assets are frozen until the problem of the inheritance is determined by local courts. There’s also no automatic share transfer where a business is concerned.

Common Inheritance Concerns

More often than not, common concerns are from the expats that have purchased properties in UAE either in their name or with their spouse. They might be confused as to which laws in inheritance apply to their assets and typically assume that laws of their own country prevail automatically over the local laws in UAE.

The golden rule of thumb is that inheritance problems in such cases are basically dealt with based on Sharia. Succession under this law operates principally by the system of reserved shares or forced heirship.

For the non-Muslims, they have the option to register a will with DIFC WPR that will offer certainty in passing their estate in Dubai to their selected heirs or they may transfer real estate to another company offshore. The offered solutions depend on every individual case hence legal consultation must be sought from the outset.

Why Should You Hire a Lawyer Expert in Inheritance Law of UAE?

There are many reasons why you should hire a lawyer expert in UAE inheritance law. Some of these include the following:

  • UAE Inheritance Law is Different from Another Country

If you assume that your home country has the same legislations when it comes to inheritance law in UAE, you might get in trouble. You have to take note that laws, regardless of sectors, are different from one country to another. If you have concerns about inheritance in UAE, you must seek for legal help from a lawyer based in UAE and expert in inheritance law.

  • UAE Inheritance Law is Not That Simple to Understand

No matter what your concerns are in your inheritance, you must know that inheritance law in UAE can be complicated and it isn’t as simple as most of you think. This is especially true if you are not a UAE national and you don’t have a clue on what legislations and regulations under this law.

If you are a UAE national and you do not want to experience any inconvenience or other possible problems with your inheritance, it’s best to hire a lawyer to help you. Regardless of how knowledgeable you are about the inheritance law in UAE, the legal services of a lawyer may come in handy at some point.

  • Experience Peace of Mind When Dealing with Inheritance Concerns

Your chosen lawyer will be the one responsible for everything you need to resolve your inheritance legal problems. Whether your problem is big or small, you can be assured that an experienced and qualified UAE inheritance lawyer will give you nothing but peace of mind and convenience throughout the process.

Hire the Best UAE Inheritance Lawyer Today!

Many expatriates living in the UAE are unaware that in the absence of a WILL, recognised by the UAE legal system, the process or practice of transferring their assets after death can be time consuming, costly and fraught with legal complexity.

When it comes to inheritance concerns in Dubai UAE, it’s always wise to hire a lawyer for the job. This is especially true if you are an expat and not familiar with the inheritance laws of UAE. Remember that the laws about inheritance vary from one country to another. So, make sure to find the right inheritance lawyer in Dubai UAE to experience peace of mind.

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