How to claim the inheritance if the beneficiaries are not UAE residents?

In recent years, the government of the UAE has enacted many groundbreaking changes to Islamic Personal Law that encourages multiculturalism and progressivism.

The latest changes explicitly allow expats to use the law of their home country for inheritance matters, but in the event that a registered will exists, the terms registered in the will be followed. This is a historic change from previous provisions which provided that Islamic Sharia law would apply in matters of inheritance when the deceased died intestate. With the new changes, however, in such circumstances, the personal law of the deceased will apply.

In addition to the aforementioned provisions, for non-Muslim foreigners who have either their domicile, place of residence or place of work in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the provisions of the newly enacted Legislative Decree on “Personal Status of Non – Muslims in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will apply.

By virtue of this, in inheritance matters:

  • An expat can name their inheritance according to their express wishes and also assign any person they choose and leave their will regarding all of their assets in the UAE;
  • In addition, in the event that a foreigner dies intestate (without a will), then according to Article 11 (2) of the new decree, half of his estate will go to the spouse, and the remaining half will be shared equally between the children ( if male or female). In the absence of children, the remaining half of the estate will devolve to the parents of the deceased on an equal basis, and in the absence of either, that part of the state will devolve to the brothers and sisters of the deceased in equal shares (whether male or female).

Needless to say, the right approach is to have a will in place and ensure that, depending on the emirate of residence, other steps are taken into account to validate the will. For example, in the Emirate of Dubai, a valid will must be registered with the Wills and Estates Center of the DIFC or attested by the courts of Dubai.

While in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, the stages are different, especially with the enforceability of the newly introduced decree. Often expats also face other obstacles in executing a will, especially when the beneficiaries are not residents of the United Arab Emirates. In such cases, it is best to appoint specialized inheritance lawyers, who will initiate both the inheritance and enforcement steps on behalf of the deceased. It is also essential to take appropriate legal advice, especially in the early stages of drafting a will to ensure its validity and compliance in accordance with UAE laws and further to ensure the correct choice of law according to the laws of the United Arab Emirates. expatriates.

The new changes have now amended more stringent Islamic laws and modernized several elements of family and personal law, including issues relating to inheritance, to adapt to changing times. The changes aim to strike a delicate balance between celebrating the heritage and culture of the Emirates and creating a modern society with laws that reflect its various obligations.


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