Dubai announces establishment of inheritance department for non-Muslim residents

This enables non-Muslims to prepare and execute their wills under a clear legislative framework, ensuring the effective application of their own laws


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Mon 10 Jul 2023, 3:00 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Jul 2023, 10:34 PM

The Dubai Courts has announced the establishment of its first inheritance department for non-Muslims residing in the emirates. This significant development allows non-Muslims to prepare and execute their wills according to their own laws. It provides a clear legislative framework and ensures the effective application of non-Muslims' wishes regarding inheritance matters.

This new department will provide a dedicated platform for non-Muslims to formalise their wills and have them administered by Dubai Courts. It aligns with the emirate's dedication to honouring cultural diversity and strengthening a comprehensive and advanced service framework.

Judge Mohammed Jassim Al-Shamsi, Head of The Special Court of Inheritance in Dubai, affirmed that the decision aligns with the directives of the wise leadership and the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai.

How it works:

The Department specialises in regulating non-Muslim inheritance cases based on specific terms and conditions. To open an inheritance file, applicants must provide a set of documents, depending on their specific request and the available documentation. In the first case, the documents must include a legal notice, an inventory of inheritance, a legal document, or an official document specifying the heirs and their shares.

In the second case, applicants should submit an official document proving the existence of a will issued by Dubai Courts or any other courts within UAE, excluding the Dubai International Financial Centre courts. In the third case, if none of the above documents are available, a judicial ruling proving the death of the deceased and identifying the heirs must be provided. Al-Shamsi also mentions that if the ruling is issued outside the UAE, the file can only be opened after ensuring that the ruling is attested by the Embassy of the UAE - Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

If a request to open an inheritance file is based on a will not issued by the courts within the UAE, which is the fourth case, the provisions of Article 18 of Law No. 15 of 2017 concerning the management of non-Muslim inheritance matters and the execution of their wills, as applied in Dubai, are implemented. A lawsuit for the execution of the will is registered, along with a certified copy of the applicable law for the will, whether it is the law of the testator's nationality, or the law specified in the will. The director of the lawsuit ensures the completion of the documents, payment of judicial fees, schedules the nearest session, and notifies all parties mentioned in the will.

The non-Muslim inheritance Department applies a single-session system, aiming to reach a decision on the request within one session. After the decision accepting the execution of the will is issued, along with the file opening application, it is presented. If further clarification and inquiries are required, a request is submitted to the court president for approval to open the file through the "Wayak" system.

Regarding cases where the court refrains from opening probate files, Al-Shamsi explained that they include situations where a will is issued or authenticated by the Dubai International Financial Centre courts, as these courts have jurisdiction over such matters. Additionally, an accompanying affidavit specifying the heirs, whether they are outside the country or subject to consular jurisdiction, may be considered insufficient in determining all the heirs. In other cases, applicants are permitted to submit a request to the court president through the "Wayak" system for the review and issuance of an approval decision.

The establishment of this department aims to facilitate and expedite procedures for individuals. Al-Shamsi emphasised that Dubai Courts attaches great importance to the probate matters of non-Muslims in the Emirate, ensuring the application of their personal laws and developing litigation procedures to make them enforceable.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in his capacity as the Ruler of Dubai, issued Law No. 15 of 2017, which applies to all wills and probate matters concerning non-Muslims in the Emirate, including the Dubai International Financial Centre. This comprehensive law aims to empower non-Muslims to prepare their wills within a clear legislative framework that ensures the application of their personal laws. Furthermore, it seeks to enhance litigation procedures related to their wills and probate matters, simplifying and making them enforceable.

The law also encourages non-Muslims to register their wills and manage their estates in Dubai, addressing the legal issues associated with inheritance and probate cases and finding appropriate solutions. Ultimately, it promotes investment in Dubai with confidence and transparency.


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