Inheritance Law refers to the legal principles and regulations that govern the distribution of a deceased person’s assets and property among their heirs. The United Arab Emirates has specific laws and provisions that determine how inheritance is handled.
Law for Muslims and Non-Muslims
- For Muslims, inheritance law is primarily based on Sharia. Sharia Law is the Islamic Law. Sharia Law delivers very elaborative guideline on the distribution of assets.
It also specifies the shares of several family members, including spouses, children, and parents. The Sharia Rules aim to ensure fair and just distribution in society. It also respects the principles and teachings of Islam.
- For non-Muslims, inheritance law in the UAE is governed by their laws or the laws of their home country. Non-Muslim expatriates have the option to choose the application of their home country’s laws or the UAE’s laws for the distribution of their assets
Moreover, it appoints executors to fulfill the purpose. For instance, when a person passes away without leaving a will, it can create difficulties for their loved ones in accessing and transferring their estate. This can lead to financial problems and unnecessary delays.
It is therefore recommended that individuals create a will during their lifetime. It is done to alleviate the distress their family would otherwise experience.
Muslims are subject to Sharia law. Non-Muslims have their own laws or can choose to apply the laws of their home country if they are expatriates, managed as follows;
Half of the inheritance goes to the spouse. In case, there are no children, half of the inheritance goes to the spouse straight away. If both parents are absent, all of the inheritance goes to the surviving spouse if there are no children or siblings of the deceased.
One can also designate the beneficiary of all their assets located within the UAE through a registered will. Moreover, under certain circumstances, an heir of a foreign person can request the application of their home country’s laws. It is done for the distribution of assets unless it contradicts a registered will.
If a person (foreign) has no heirs, then their assets in will be held by the government. The specific procedures for inheritance will be determined by a Cabinet decision.
For Muslims, inheritance follows the principles of Sharia law. Sharia law consists of detailed, cohesive, and comprehensive rules. It’s important to consider the following points when determining the assets of a deceased Muslim:
Inheritance is determined after funeral costs and outstanding debts of the deceased are paid. If a will exists, assets are primarily distributed according to the will. Moreover, any remaining property is divided according to Sharia law. Heirs must be established through two male witnesses and supporting documentation. Non-Muslims cannot inherit from Muslims.
One-fourth of the inheritance goes to the husband if the wife has children, or to the wife if the husband has no children. One-eighth of the inheritance goes to the wife if the husband has children.
2/3 goes to two or more daughters if no son and 1/3 goes to mother if no siblings or other legal heir.
If the assets are not fully distributed to the forced heirs, they will be divided among the residuary heirs. If there are no forced or residuary heirs, the assets will be distributed among extended family members. The assets will be passed to the government, if there is no heir.
In conclusion, although inheritance laws under Sharia may appear complex, they allow for the inclusion of all legitimate beneficiaries to claim their share of the deceased’s assets. Inheritance law under Sharia law believes in the large interest of society and maintains fair and just treatment for everyone. On the contrary, Non-Muslims have the option to create a will to simplify the administration of their property through the courts.