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All you need to know about Inheritance Sharia Law in UAE Law

Conventionally, inheritance involves handing over one’s estates to descendants, family, and other legally entitled beneficiaries. However, the process can get complicated if the deceased does not leave behind a will. Thanks to the rule of law, there is still a fair and legal way to ensure that eligible beneficiaries get their share.

Inheritance of financial assets happens to be a major source of discord and quarrels in families. Therefore, different civilizations formulated Laws to guide the seamless succession of property, usually according to the deceased’s testament.

Inheritance Laws in the UAE/ Bodies

The first inheritance related Law in the UAE is contained under ‘Article number 17’ of the Federal Law Number (5) of 1985. The article gives the ‘testator’ the rights to a testament that will administer their assets’ succession process.

The second provision is the Federal Law Number (28) of 2005, which discusses the Personal Status Law’s application. These laws are concerned with family affairs, marriage, divorce, guardianship, and associations.

Inheritance in the Case that the Deceased was Muslim

The Sharia Law has its jurisprudence over the sharing of Muslim’s property. Sharia Law allows a Muslim to make a will, the ‘Wasiyat,’ where one names his estates’ favorite beneficiaries. Nevertheless, the beneficiary is only entitled to a third of the property. This is meant to bring impartiality to the inheritance process. Sharing of the deceased properties comes after deductions have been made to cater for the deceased’s burial expenses and debts that were yet to be serviced before their untimely passing.

Sharia Laws recognizes two groups of eligible beneficiaries

Primary heirs

These are the main beneficiaries of the deceased property. This group comprises the deceased’s, nuclear family. The husband would get half of his wife’s property if they did not have any successors. In the case that they have children, the husband gets a quarter of the total inheritance.

The widow(s) would get a quarter of their deceased husband’s estates if they did not have any biological children together. However, the widows are eligible to an eighth of the estates if they had sired children with the deceased.

The sons are eligible to get twice their sister’s share, while the sisters are eligible for two-thirds of the estates if they do not have any sibling brothers. In the wife’s demise, the husband takes custody of the children, properties, and estates. This is, however, not the case if the husband dies. Islamic Law stipulates that a direct male relative of the deceased be considered the guardian of the deceased children and custodian of any property owned or transferred to the children before they reach maturity.

Secondary heirs/ Residuary heirs

These comprise the deceased person’s extended family and any other beneficiaries who might not necessarily be blood-related such as adopted children and friends. They are only eligible for inheritance only in the unfortunate circumstance that the deceased did not leave any heirs.

UAE Property Ownership for Expatriate

Exceptions in Inheritance Laws in the UAE

Many might ponder what happens in the UAE in the case of a non-Muslim or foreigners’ demise. The UAE recognizes the diverse nature of its residents, who comprise native citizens and expatriates who are also of diverse religious backgrounds.

The Emirati Civil Code exempts foreigners and non-Muslims from the Sharia Inheritance Law procedures. The residents in question are allowed to use their country’s laws, internationally recognized Inheritance Laws, and their religious backgrounds to administer their succession.

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M. Al Khairy, LL.B. is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Al Khairy also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators. Read more