As expats, we’re anxious about figuring out inheritance laws and how the UAE courts would apply them. Recent legal advancements in the UAE have made it easier for expats to follow the laws of their home country in personal affairs such as inheritance and wills. Amendments to the Personal Status Code and Civil Legislation were issued on November 7, 2020, allowing expatriates in the UAE to choose which law applies to their inheritance. Despite the fact that the legislation governing will and Inheritance has just been changed, this essay will explain why it is critical for an expat to write a Will in the UAE.
What has changed in terms of inheritance law?
Prior to the 2020 New Amendment:
Wills and related activities in the UAE are governed by two federal laws: Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status and Federal Law No. 05 of 1985 on Civil Code.
Sharia is the fundamental source of inheritance law in the United Arab Emirates, and Federal Laws are founded on it. The Civil Transactions Code (Federal Law No. 5 of 1985) and the Personal Status Law are the two main pieces of legislation that govern succession (Federal Law No. 28 of 2005).
Article 1(2) of the Personal Law provides that until non-Muslim elects otherwise, the provisions of this Law apply to non-citizens unless one of them insists on adopting the Law of their country. As a result, if a non-Muslim foreign individual dies in the state and leaves real estate or other assets in the country, his heirs may be able to sue under the laws of his home country.
The testator’s Inheritance, on the other hand, is governed by the legislation in effect in his state at the time of his death, according to article 17(1) of the Civil Transactions Code (Civil Law).
The UAE’s Personal Law allowed non-Muslims to form a Will and distribute their assets according to their wishes. The UAE’s Personal Law permitted non-Muslims to form a Will and distribute their assets according to their preferences prior to the modification. If a foreign person dies without a will, the courts are empowered under the Civil Law and Personal Law to distribute the deceased’s property according to Sharia principles.
What has changed now (2020 Amendment)?
Expats and foreigners with real estate investments in the UAE can now select in their Wills which legislation they want to apply to transfer their UAE properties, according to new modifications to the Inheritance and Will Act. The State legislation of the deceased specifies how a person’s property is distributed among his or her family members, according to Article 17(3) of the Civil Code Law.
Regardless of faith, an individual’s inheritance will be distributed according to the laws of their state at the time of death. In the case of a written Will, it will be carried out according to Will’s stipulations. Furthermore, if there is no Will or the applicable legislation is not indicated in the Will, the state laws of the deceased will apply.
When a person owns real estate in the United Arab Emirates and dies without leaving a will, If a person purchases a property in the UAE and dies intestate (without making a will), the property will be subject to Sharia law, according to Article 17(5) of the Civil Code Law. To put it another way, the revisions to the Civil Code have no bearing on real estate. Because there is no registered Will in the UAE, the deceased’s real estate will be split according to Sharia law.
Why, even after the 2020 Amendment, you should consider creating a WillTo preserve your goods or assets in the UAE, it is strongly recommended that you have a registered Will in the UAE. The following are some of the reasons for this:
If you have minor children under the age of 21, you must designate legal guardians for them in a Will. It gives you the ability to safeguard your minor children. The wife does not immediately become the legal guardian of minor children when her husband dies. Making a will in Dubai will help ensure that your property is transferred according to your intentions. It also assures that your children are being looked after by someone you can rely on.
Distribution of real estate
Real estate is not included by the amendment addressing the option of using home country law for distribution after death. In this case, your assets shall be allocated according to Sharia Law, as outlined in Article 17(5) of the Civil Code. Real estate can only be passed to a named beneficiary if you have a Will in place.
Beneficiaries can be named.
If a member of your immediate family passes away before you, a Will allows you to choose other beneficiaries to whom your assets will be transferred. You have the option of ensuring that only the people you name in your Will receive your assets.
Will aids in carrying out the wishes of the departed.
Without Will, the family will incur additional expenditures and have trouble claiming possession of the assets. It may require time and money to prove the provisions of the home country’s legislation, especially if relevant extracts of the home country’s Law need to be validated or verified. A registered Will aids the courts in carrying out the deceased person’s wishes as quickly as possible.
Give you inner fulfillment
Writing a Will provides satisfaction to expats by guaranteeing that their final wishes are carried out according to their wishes rather than those of a foreign court. A Will enables you to communicate your wishes for your assets in great detail. Because cash and assets are frozen and cannot be accessed without a court order after death, preparing a Will can provide you peace of mind that your family members will not have any trouble identifying each person’s share.
If you live in the United Arab Emirates as a non-Muslim, make sure you create and register your Will as soon as possible to avoid any future issues.