UAE: Who are the legal heirs if a resident dies without drawing up a will?
Find out what the law says in case of those who die intestate.
Question: I have been working in a Dubai-based firm for the last 35 years. I have some properties and investments back home in India and have drawn up a will for their distribution in case of my death. In Dubai, I have some investments, a car and, of course, my gratuity. I have no liabilities. In the event of my death, do these automatically get transferred to my wife? I am a Muslim by faith. Do I need to draw up a will? Please advise.
Answer: Pursuant to your queries, we assume that you have registered your will in India for your properties and investments in India as per the prevailing Personal Laws that are applicable to Muslims in the country. Further, in the UAE, the provisions of Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status (the ‘Personal Status Law of UAE’) are applicable pertaining to inheritance and granting of will.
If an individual who is a Muslim dies intestate (without granting a will to anyone) in the UAE, the legal heirs of the deceased will be decided by the Personal Status Court in accordance with the principles of Sharia law. This is in accordance with Article 313 of the Personal Status Law of UAE, which states: “Inheritance is the imperative devolution of the property and financial rights upon the death of their owner to those deserving.”
Article 321 of the Personal Status Law of UAE states who shall be the legal heirs of an individual who dies intestate. It reads as follows:
“1. Forced inheritance: is a fixed share for an heir in the estate.
2. The fixed shares are: one-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, two-thirds, one-third, one-sixth, and one-third of the balance.
3. The forced heirs are: The two parents, the spouses, paternal grandfather or his agnate ascendants, the grandmother who is not related to the decedent by an heir, daughters, the daughters of the son or of his descendants, sisters in the absolute, and the cognate brother.”
Article 322 to Article 328 of the Personal Status Law of UAE mentions the degrees of succession as per the Sharia. Based on the aforementioned mentioned provisions of law, you may avail the services of a legal counsel in the UAE to confirm who shall be your legal heirs upon your death in the event you die intestate.
Further, a Muslim in the UAE may grant a will to whomsoever he or she may concern, provided he or she obtains a written consent from other legal heirs. This is in accordance with Article 250 of the Personal Status Law of UAE, which states: “A will may not be made to an heir unless approved by all other major heirs; it is then executable on the share of the one who consented.”
Based on the aforementioned provision of law, you may obtain a written consent from your other legal heirs, if any, in writing and thereafter may grant a will to your wife for your estate in the UAE.
You may approach a legal counsel in the UAE and the Personal Status Court in Dubai for further advice on this matter.
Ashish Mehta is the founder and Managing Partner of Ashish Mehta & Associates. He is qualified to practise law in Dubai, the United Kingdom and India. Full details of his firm on: www.amalawyers.com. Readers may e-mail their questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org or send them to Legal View, Khaleej Times, PO Box 11243, Dubai.
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