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What makes a Muslim Will invalid in the UAE?

When a Muslim dies, four responsibilities must be fulfilled:

  1. Payment of burial costs, 
  2. payment of his or her debts, 
  3. execution of his or her Will, and 
  4. Distribution of the remaining wealth among the heirs according to Sharia Law.

When a person passes away, his or her property passes to his or her heirs. Whether a person dies with or without a will (Testament) is a matter of personal choice. If he or she dies leaving a will, the property is divided among his or her heirs according to the legacy or Will provisions. If a person dies without a testament (Will), he or she is said to have died intestate, and the Sharia Law will apply to distribute the property among the heirs. However, Federal Law No. 28 on Personal Status provides specific grounds, making a Will invalid and Void.

You may want to know: How Trust is beneficial for your property in the UAE?

Grounds which make Muslim Will Invalid

Article 270 of Federal Law No. 28 on Personal Status

 provides for certain circumstances which make a Will void for Muslims. 

  1. Express or implied revocation of the Muslim Will by the Testator under Muslim law.
    The Testator has the option to expressly or implicitly revoke his Will at any point before death. Oral or written express revocation is acceptable. A testator has the legal authority to make another will for the same property, and the prior Will is revoked and considered Void.

    • Express Revocation An express revocation can be done either orally or in writing. Revocation is an express revocation if a testator bequeaths part of his estate to one person and subsequently bequeaths the same estate to another person by writing another Will. The first Will immediately become void and said to be revoked. 
    • Implied Revocation Any act performed by the Testator against the Will shall revoke the Will and make it void. It means that an action that causes Will’s object to be destroyed implies Will’s cancellation. For example, the Will is impliedly cancelled if the Testator sells or gifts the property to someone else. Article 248 of the personal status law provides that the Testator’s disposal of the bequeathed property is regarded as a revocation of the Will.
  2. Death of the beneficiary during the life of the Testator 
    Under Sharia Law, if the legatee dies before the Will can take effect, the Will is considered Void and lapses. Under Article 270(2) of the Personal Status Law, the beneficiary’s death within the Testator’s lifetime makes a Will void. Unless the beneficiary declines the Will, ownership of the bequeathed asset(s) is passed to the beneficiary (ies) immediately following the Testator’s death. As a result, if the beneficiary dies before expressing his or her approval or rejection of the Will, ownership to the bequeathed assets goes to the beneficiary’s heir(s).
  3. Rejection of the Will by the beneficiary during the life of the Testator or after his death
    states that a Will given to a particular person must be accepted by the beneficiary following the death or life of the Testator. Provided that such acceptance continues after the person (Testator) has diedWhen the Testator dies, the Testator’s beneficiary must either explicitly or implicitly accept the Will. A legal representative is necessary to declare acceptance on behalf of a beneficiary who is not an individual (e.g., a corporation, charity, or institution). It is possible to accept a will in its whole or in part. Unless the beneficiary declines the Will, ownership of the bequeathed asset(s) is passed to the beneficiary (ies) immediately following the Testator’s death.
  4. Murder of the Testator by the beneficiary
    Murder of the Testator by the beneficiary whether the latter is the perpetrator, accomplice, or accessory of the crime, makes the Will void. Provided that the beneficiary was of sound mind and had reached the capacity required for criminal liability at the crime time. It is irrelevant whether the killing occurred before or after the making of Will under Sharia Law. If a legatee of the Will is liable for the murder or causing death, the Will in his favor shall be void.
  5. Destruction of the specified subject matter of the Will or its entitlement by a third person
    A Muslim can be bequeathed any moveable or immovable property that is in existence and transferable at the time of the Testator’s deathWhen a recognized property is no longer in the Testator’s estate at the time of death, the Will is said to be Void. It might have been sold, destroyed, or otherwise disposed of during the Testator’s lifetime to the third party. For ex. Testator transfers his Car by making Will in the name of his daughter. However, by the time the Testator dies, the Car was destroyed in an accident. Will concerning Car becomes void.
  6. The Testator’s or beneficiary’s apostasy from Islam unless he returns to it
    Any Will made by a Testator who has abandoned Islam or ceased to be a Muslim in any way shall be considered Void. The same rule applies to the beneficiary also. Suppose at the time of Testator death or after his death; he becomes apostate (converted to any other religion). In that case, he is not entitled to inherit the property mentioned in the Will unless he reverts and accepts Islam again. If the legatee is an apostate and a murderer of the Testator, Sharia law prohibits the legatee from accepting the Will

You should know the Conditions for Revocation (Cancellation) of DIFC Will for Non-Muslims

Will drafting and registering services

The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the subject. HHS Lawyers and Legal Consultants is a renowned legal service business in Dubai that provides will writing services. We have a team of lawyers who are experts in this subject and other areas of law. Our attorneys in Dubai can assist you in drafting and registering your own Will.

Writing a will may be a challenging process, which is why HHS Lawyers and Legal Consultants, with over 30 years of legal expertise, can assure you that we can provide a high-quality service to draft a legal will.

M. Al Khatem

Trademark & Intellectual Property

M. Al Khatem is a senior Trademark and Intellectual Property (IP) expert in HHS Lawyers. He has handled some of the firm’s complex, high-profile cases – many involving the protection of trademark and IP rights.