family law


November 03, 2016



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How Are Issues of Inheritance Dealt with for Expatriates?

Question: I had an American friend who worked for a company and died here in the UAE a year ago. Her final salary and end-of-service payment are still at the bank. She had no children. What does her mother need to do to get the account closed and withdraw the money?

Answer: Inheritance issues are determined by the respective courts in each emirate. In this case, an inheritance certificate can be applied for from the court, per Article 276 of UAE Federal Law No 28 of 2005, the Personal Status Law, and Article 1244 of UAE Federal Law No 5 of 1985, the Civil Transactions Law. The court will then determine the shares each heir is entitled to and issue the inheritance certificate. While making an application for an inheritance certificate the applicant may opt to use UAE law or opt for the law of their home country to be applied. If home country laws are to be used then the applicable law should be attested and the original attested document should be submitted along with the application. Once obtained, the inheritance certificate then forms the basis on which assets of the deceased are distributed. The legal heirs or power of attorney holders would then need to make another application to the court to communicate with the bank to close the account and release the funds.

Question: I am an Asian woman and caught my husband cheating on me. Both of us are UAE residents. He admitted the affair to me, and the woman he has been having the affair with admitted it to me on WhatsApp. I want to file for divorce and would like to know my options.

Answer: According to the Personal Status Law, if you and your husband are UAE residents the court with jurisdiction to hear the divorce case would be the family court in the emirate where you live. You may file your case based on the WhatsApp admission received from the other woman. However, it is highly probable that the judge will ask you to produce further evidence or witnesses to testify. In case you do not have any further proof or witnesses to produce, you can request the court refer the matter to arbitrators for reconciliation. During this stage, if the arbitrators fail to resolve the issue, they would recommend to the court that you are granted a divorce.

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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If one of the siblings do not sign the power of attoerney, can the rest of the siblings claim their fathers inheritance in UAE?
Waheed Mohamad
Inheritance in the UAE is governed by the religion, and nationality of the deceased along with whether or not there is any Will that the deceased has left.

So that your questions are attended to in detail, it is advisable to schedule a consultation with a legal advisor. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Look forward to hearing from you.   Dr. Hassan Elhais

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