Inheritance Law in UAE
The law of inheritance deals with passing of one’s estates to family, descendants, and other legal beneficiaries. The inheritance law of UAE is very vast and extensive which accommodates everyone irrespective of the religion and nationality. The principle source governing Inheritance in the country is the Sharia law and several federal laws have been made in this regard.
In UAE, the right of survivorship is not followed; the joint property is not transferred automatically to the living one. Here, the court has exclusive authority to deal with such cases. The surviving person will not have immediate access to the property of the deceased one.
Inheritance in case of Deceased Muslim
For Muslims, the Sharia law is applied while distributing the property to the heirs and the descendants. At first, the court determines the heirs of the deceased Muslims through documentary proof such as marriage or birth certificate. The heirs are also verified in the presence of two male witnesses. In the Sharia law, the spouse, parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, grandparents (paternal), uncles/aunts, nephews/nieces are considered as heirs to the estate. The heirs are further divided into primary and secondary heirs.
The following persons will not eligible to have a share in the estate –
- The person committing the murder will be ineligible to claim the estate
- Non-Muslim can’t claim his/her share from the estate of a Muslim.
- A divorced woman can’t claim his right in the husband unless she has gone through the iddat period.
In the UAE, it is imperative to note that the estate of the deceased Muslim also includes the outstanding liabilities associated with that property. The heirs first need to pay the obligation from the estate, and then claim the residue share.
The deceased property will be distributed in the following manner.
One half of the property will be given to:
- The husband, if the wife has no successor;
- The daughter, if the deceased has no other children;
- The daughter of the son or of his descendants, if the deceased has a child or a grandchild higher in degree with her;
- The sister, if she has no brother or sister, a successor of the deceased, father or grandfather;
- Consanguine sister, if she has no brother or germane sister or brother, a successor of deceased, father or grandfather.
One-fourth of the property will be given to:
- The husband, if the wife has a descendant;
- The wife, if the husband has no descendant.
One eight of the property will be given to:
- The wife, if the husband has a successor.
Two-third of the property will be given to:
- 2 or more daughters, if deceased has no son;
- Two or more daughters of son, or his successors, of the deceased, has no son, grandson of the same degree;
- 2 or more germane sisters, if there is no germane brother, successor, father or grandfather;
- 2 or more consanguine sister, if there is no consanguine brother, a germane brother or sister, a successor, father or grandfather.
One-third of the property will be given to:
- The mother, if the deceased has no successor or if there is no one else to succeed;
- 2 or more of mother’s children, if there is no successor or father or grandfather, the property shall be divided equally;
- The paternal grandfather,
One-sixth of the property will be given to:
- The father upon concurring with succeeding descendent;
- The paternal grandfather, if the deceased has a successor, if the forced heir is present, if his share is less than one-sixth or one-third of the reminder or if nothing is residual post taking his forced share;
- Mother, along with successor of deceased or with 2 or more brother and sisters;
- Grandmothers, if she is not ineligible for an inheritance;
The Sharia law also recognises wills (Wasiyat) for the Muslims. However, there are certain conditions that must be fulfilled for a valid will which are as follows-
- The person drafting the will must be over the age of 21 years.
- The person should be sound mind.
- The will must be duly notarised.
The most important condition is that the will can only be made to the extent of 1/3rd of the property. Further, this estate shall not be gifted to any of the heirs. However, if the size of the will exceeds 1/3rd of the property, the person needs to take written consent of the other heirs.
Inheritance in the case of a Non-Muslim
In UAE, a non-Muslim can draft a will and the property will be divided accordingly. However, if he dies without any will, then the property will be transferred as per the Sharia law or the law of their home country.
As per Article 17(1) of the UAE Civil law, the law of inheritance will be governed by the law of the deceased during the time of his death. Further Article 1(2) of the UAE personal law states that if a non-muslim foreign national dies in the state, then his property can be distributed as per the laws of his home country.
The heirs of the deceased need to make an application before the court as per Article 276 of the UAE Personal Law. He/she also needs to deposit certain documents, including death certificate, domicile of the deceased and the duly notarised will of the deceased.
So, it is evident that the law of Inheritance is mainly governed by Sharia law. However, if you are feeling troubled with any inheritance issue, it will be better to seek legal advice.