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October 13, 2021
The UAE Personal Status Law defines ‘inheritance’ as ‘the imperative devolution of the property and financial rights upon the death of their owner to those deserving’ (Article 313). Inheritance conventionally means handing over one’s assets to his/her descendants, family, or other legally entitled beneficiaries. The process becomes complicated when the deceased has not left a will behind. Therefore, the right process would be to have a registered will at hand to ensure that your property and assets are divided as per the provisions of the will, which in turn reflects your wishes.
What happens when there is no 'will':
When an expatriate dies without a Will then the provisions of the Federal law number 28 of 2005 promulgating the personal status law and its amendment (‘personal status law’) and the federal law number 5 of 1985 concerning the civil transaction law (‘civil transaction law’) and its amendments apply.
In the absence of a registered will, the following undesirable process may apply by default:
New amendment in Personal Laws in the UAE and what it means for you:
The Government of the United Arab Emirates has enacted ground-breaking changes to personal laws to promote multiculturalism and progressivism. The decision amends strict Islamic laws and modernizes several elements of family and personal law to keep pace with changing times. The amendments aim to strike a delicate balance between celebrating the heritage and culture of the Emirates and creating a modern society endowed with laws that reflect its diverse obligations.
What has changed:
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 recorded in the will be followed. Pursuant to the new amendments, the provisions of Article 17 have been replaced by virtue of Article 1 of Federal Decree-Law no. 30/2020 as follows:
With the new changes, the UAE is once again demonstrating its ability to attract millions of people from around the world to live and work here. The changes reflect the welcoming environment sought by the diverse expats and which are important especially for families who settle in the UAE and make it their home.