In the United Arab Emirates, the provisions of Federal Law No. 28 of 2005 on Personal Status (the ‘Personal Status Law of the UAE’) apply to inheritance and wills. The legal heirs of a Muslim who dies intestate (without leaving a Will) in the UAE will be determined by the Personal Status Court according to Sharia law rules.

Legal Provisions regarding Legal Heirs of a Muslim dies intestate

Specific Islamic rules apply, and certain Shariah limits apply to those who can be declared as heirs. Only genuine connections, for example, can be heirs under Shariah. As a result, any illegitimate offspring are not entitled to inherit or share in the inheritance. Similarly, any relationship that isn’t a marriage between a man and a woman isn’t considered legal. In addition, According to Shariah, adopted children have no right to a portion. A non-Muslim cannot be the heir to a Muslim’s riches, according to Shariah Law.

A Muslim heir from a non-Muslim relative is also ineligible. Suppose a person comes to inherit an estate after committing a crime such as murdering a sibling or father. In that case, he or she will not benefit from his or her crime and will be disqualified for succession if Shariah laws are followed. Divorced women cannot sue their ex-husbands till the “iddat” time has passed, and vice versa.

  1. Article 313 of the UAE’s Personal Status Law :

Article 313 of the UAE’s Personal Status Law states that: “Inheritance is the mandatory transfer of property and financial rights to those who are deserving following the death of their owner.”

  1. Article 321 of the UAE Personal Status Law:

The legal heirs of an individual who dies intestate are defined in Article 321 of the UAE Personal Status Law and states that:

  • Forced inheritance:  a fixed part of the estate for an heir.
  • Fixed Shares: Half, quarter, eighth, two-thirds, one-third, one-sixth, and one-third of the balance are fixed shares.
  • The forced heirs include:

 The two parents, the spouses, the paternal grandfather or his agnate ascendants, the grandmother who is not related to the decedent through an heir, the daughters, and the daughters of the son or his descendants, sisters in the absolute, and the cognate brother.”

Conditions for making a Valid Will by a Muslim 

  1. In essence, an Islamic will is similar to any other Will in that it must be executed by an adult of sound mind and free Will above the age of 21. It entails naming a trustee or executor, as well as a guardian for any young children. A notarized will is required in Dubai.
  2. In the UAE, a Muslim may make a will for anyone he or she wishes, as long as other legal heirs provide written approval. A Muslim Will must comply with UAE Personal Status Law Article 250, which states: “A will may not be given to an heir until authorized by all other main heirs; it is then executable on the share of the one who consented.”
  3. Further, Article (243) of the UAE Personal status Laws states that “the will is enforceable up to one-third of the testator’s inheritance after the rights thereon have been paid, and it is lawful beyond this third, up to the share of the principal heir who accepted it”. 
  4. Article (263) provides that the general Will shall be executed up to one-third of the succession.

Who has the right to claim the estate of a deceased Muslim person?

According to Muslim Shariah Law, the deceased’s heirs and descendants have the right to claim the deceased’s inheritance. In the event of non-Muslims, beneficiaries of the Will can claim the estate provided the Will is lawfully certified. In a Muslim’s death, the inheritance will only be distributed to those who qualify as heirs according to Shariah rules.

In the case of a Muslim’s death, the first step for the courts is to identify the heirs and confirm it with two male witnesses and documentation proof such as marriage or birth certificates. Spouses, parents, children, grandchildren, siblings, grandparents (paternal), uncles/aunts, nephews/nieces are regarded heir to the inheritance under Shariah principles. It also sets the following requirements on who is eligible to be an heir:

  1. Any illegitimate or adoptive offspring will not be considered heirs.
  2. A non-Muslim cannot profit from a Muslim’s estate.
  3. A person who murders to gain from the estate is ineligible to claim the estate.
  4. Divorced women cannot claim their ex-husband’s inheritance unless they are in the “iddat” period.

The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the subject. HHS Lawyers and Legal Consultants is a renowned legal service business in Dubai that provides will writing services. We have a team of lawyers who are experts in this subject and other areas of law. Our attorneys in Dubai can assist you in drafting and registering your own Will. Writing a will may be a challenging process, which is why HHS Lawyers and Legal Consultants, with over 30 years of legal expertise, can assure you that we can provide a high-quality service to draft a legal will.

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