Owning property in the UAE comes with responsibilities as well as rewards. Have you considered what will happen to your UAE property after death?

The inheritance laws in the UAE differ from those in Western countries, so it’s essential to understand how your estate will be distributed to ensure your wishes are honored and your loved ones are provided for.

Learn the principles of inheritance under UAE law for a smooth transfer of your property and possessions to your beneficiaries and the diverse nationalities of UAE residents, there are steps you can take to exercise more control over your legacy.

Read on to learn how inheritance claims are determined, the rights of spouses and children, and options such as wills that can influence how your property in UAE after death is allocated.

What Is Inheritance?

What is inheritance

Inheritance refers to the transfer of assets, property, and debt after someone passes away. Sharia law governs inheritance in the UAE and determines how property in UAE after death is divided.

The estate is divided among legal heirs like spouses, children, parents, and siblings according to specific shares detailed in Sharia law.

The main beneficiaries are always legal heirs unless a valid will specifies otherwise.

A will allows individuals to specify how their assets and liabilities should be distributed after death and can name guardians for any minor children. However, even with a will, Sharia law dictates that a portion of the estate must go to legal heirs.

How UAE Property After Death is Distributed

When you pass away in the UAE, your assets are distributed according to Sharia law. Immovable property like homes or land is divided among your legal heirs, typically your spouse and children.

How is the division calculated?

Fixed shares are allocated to specific relatives:

  • Your spouse receives 1/4.
  • Sons receive 2/3 of the remainder.
  • Daughters receive 1/3 of what sons receive.
  • If there are no children, the spouse receives 1/2.

The division aims to provide for close family members based on their relationship to you. Property is evaluated and divided evenly based on its value at your death.

Heirs can agree to an alternative division by mutual consent and a new legal agreement. But in the absence of a will, the standard division applies. Plan and draft a will to ensure your property in UAE after death is distributed accordingly.

Inheritance Rights of Spouses and Children in UAE

As a spouse or child of a property owner in the UAE, you have inheritance rights to the estate.

Surviving Spouse

If your spouse passes away, UAE law entitles you to inherit 1/4 of their property if there are children or 1/2 if there are none. You have the right to continue living in the marital home.


Sons are generally entitled to twice as much as daughters. The exact share depends on the number of heirs. For example, the son would inherit 2/3 and 1/3 with one son and one daughter.

The court will consider the wishes expressed in any will but has the final say in the division of assets according to Sharia law.

As the lawful heirs, spouses and children have the right to inherit the deceased’s property, bank accounts, vehicles, investments, and other valuable assets in the UAE.

Inheritance For Muslims In UAE

Inheritance for muslims in uae

The UAE law explains how a Muslim’s property in UAE after death is divided. Here are some main points:

  • Funeral expenses and debts are subtracted before sharing the property.
  • If there’s a will, it’s followed. Any property not listed gets shared using Shariah law.
  • Only one-third of the property can be in the will, and it must follow the law’s guidelines.
  • Two male witnesses and documents can confirm who the legal heirs are.
  • A non-Muslim can’t inherit from a Muslim who has passed away.
  • Someone who kills the person can’t inherit any property.

If you are Muslim, Sharia law applies to inheritance in the UAE. Under Sharia law, fixed portions of an estate pass to heirs according to their relationship to the deceased.

The closest male relatives (sons, grandsons, fathers) typically receive the most significant shares. Female heirs (daughters, granddaughters, mothers) receive half as much as their male counterparts.

Non-Muslim spouses have no automatic right to inherit under Sharia law. However, UAE courts may issue a separate non-Sharia compliant order granting an inheritance share to a non-Muslim spouse.

Inheritance For Non-Muslims in UAE

The UAE has specific rules about what happens to people’s property in UAE after death without leaving a will. These rules are explained in Articles 11 and 12 of Federal Decree-Law No. 41 of 2022.

  • If a non-Muslim resident dies without a will, their property will be divided equally among their spouse and children.
  • If no children exist, 50% of the property will go to the spouse, and the other 50% will be divided between the parents.
  • If only one parent is alive, the spouse will get 50%, and the remaining 50% will be split equally between the living parent and the deceased’s brothers.
  • The property will go to the parents if there are no brothers, spouses, or children.
  • Without parents, the deceased’s brothers will inherit the property.

As an expatriate living in the UAE, it’s important to understand how inheritance laws apply to non-Muslims. According to UAE law, non-Muslims can pass on their assets according to the laws of their home country or as per their will. However, there are certain restrictions.

UAE property ownership is generally limited to UAE nationals and GCC citizens. As an expatriate, you can only own residential property through designated freehold areas or by obtaining approval from the Emirati partner or landlord.

Upon death, the ownership of such property cannot be directly inherited and will be subject to the terms of the original purchase agreement. Movable assets like cash, jewelry, vehicles, etc., and bank accounts can be distributed through a will or as per the laws of your home country.

Non-Muslim expatriates need to prepare a will to ensure their assets are distributed as per their wishes. Wills can be drafted under UAE law or the laws of your home country and may need to be notarized.

The will should specify the beneficiaries and allocate all assets. Failure to do so can lead to complex inheritance issues for your loved ones.

Forced Inheritance in UAE

In the UAE, Sharia law mandates that certain heirs receive a fixed share of the deceased’s estate. Known as forced heirs, this includes spouses, children, and parents.

As per Sharia law, forced heirs are entitled to inherit a specified portion of the estate whether or not they are named in the will.

For example, under Sharia law in UAE, if a male passes away leaving a wife and three daughters, two-thirds of the estate would be divided equally amongst the daughters.

The wife would inherit the remaining one-third. The forced heirs would receive their predetermined shares before distributing them to other beneficiaries named in the will.

This ensures close family members are provided for after a relative’s death. However, for non-Muslims living in the UAE, following the civil law allows more flexibility in bequeathing assets according to your wishes.

Now that you understand the inheritance laws in the UAE, you can plan your estate and ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you’re gone.

Consult with a legal expert to draft a proper will, considering all applicable laws. Make sure to keep your will up-to-date as your life circumstances change.

While death is never easy to think about, taking these steps will give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be provided for even when you can no longer be there for them.

The UAE has strong laws to protect people’s rights to inherit family property and pass on their legacy, so you can feel secure knowing your estate is in good hands. Thinking ahead about these important matters allows you to embrace life fully while living it.

Have more questions about inheritance laws in the UAE? Here are some of the most frequently asked ones:

What happens to my property if I pass away without a will?

If you die without leaving a will (intestate), your property will be distributed according to the UAE’s standard order of inheritance. First, your spouse and children will inherit, then parents, siblings, and other relatives.

Can I write a will to distribute my assets?

You can write a will to specify how you want your property in UAE after death is distributed. However, Sharia law requirements regarding inheritance shares for legal heirs must be followed.

Do daughters inherit equally as sons?

According to UAE inheritance laws, male heirs inherit twice as much as female. However, you can specify in your will that you want your assets divided equally between sons and daughters.

Can non-Muslims inherit property in the UAE?

Yes, non-Muslims can inherit property in the UAE. For non-Muslim expatriates, inheritance is governed by the law of their home country. They can also draft a will to distribute assets as per their wishes.

What taxes apply to inherited property?

There are no inheritance or estate taxes in the UAE for UAE nationals or expatriates. Property transfer fees may apply when transferring the title deed to the legal heirs.

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