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family law


March 23, 2017

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As a Non-Muslim, Do I Have a Right to My Late Muslim Husband's Estate?

Question: I was married to a Muslim man in an Islamic marriage but I am not Muslim. We have two children but my husband recently passed away and I was wondering about my right to his assets. As a non-Muslim, do I have any right to his estate? If not me then do our children have any rights to their father's assets? And does the fact that their mother is a non-Muslim have any effect on their rights?

Answer: According to Law No 28 of the Personal Status Law of 2005, article 318, "there shall be no inheritance if there is difference in religion", which means you are not entitled to any of his assets. However, under article 315 and 322 of the same law, your children have the right to inherit their father's assets as long as they are of the same religion as their father. The fact that you are of a different religion does not affect their inheritance rights.

Question: I am a Western expat without a will and I have a lot of money in my local bank in the UAE. I heard that, if I passed away, my money is given to a charity if I do not have a plan set out in a will. Is this true?

Answer: Even if you do not have a will, your money is distributed among your heirs. This is generally done under UAE law, though the law does allow your heirs to request to apply your own country's law to proceedings. It is important to know that they have to provide the deceased's country's applicable law. The only time the money would be given to charity is if there were no will and no heirs, according to article 360 of Personal Status Law 28 of 2005.

The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.

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