Losing a loved one is the hardest thing ever. There begins a series of paperwork after a family member’s death, especially the one upon whom the family depends for all sorts of needs and support. Inheritance and other assets-related cases start to arise after the death of a family member.
In the UAE, inheritance matters are dealt with with the Federal Law Number 5 of 1985 (Civil Code) and the Law of Personal Status, Federal Law Number 28 of 2005 as amended (Personal Status Law). The inheritance and succession matters of Muslim nationals are dealt with by the Shariah Law, whereas non-muslim expatriates’ inheritance matters are dealt with by their country’s law if the deceased made any will. In that Will, if the deceased had urged to apply the law of his country as per Article 17 (1) of the Civil Code, the inheritance will be decided according to the law of the country of deceased, but Article 17 (5) of the Civil Code states that the real estate located in the UAE will be dealt with by the UAE Law only, he has to register the Will with the UAE government.
The UAE laws will apply to the distribution of that non-muslim expatriate’s assets, and the foreign law will be applicable if it conforms with the public order and moral values of the country. In matters related to real estate, the law of the land (UAE laws) will always be applicable in all cases.
One should make a will regarding the distribution of all assets among all family members proportionally.
All the deceased’s assets, including his bank accounts, shared assets, will be frozen under Article 379(4) of Federal Law Number 18 of 1993 Commercial Transactions Law until the deceased’s liabilities are not discharged, and the court does not decide on inheritance and issues a succession order.
A death certificate is issued by the government authority to declare his death officially. The deceased’s heirs need to get the death certificate attested by the relevant government institutions to begin settling legal obligations and resolving property matters. The death certificate of the deceased should be submitted to the UAE Shariah Court. The Shariah Court is empowered by law to review any application for a dying declaration and conducting any proceedings related to succession for a Muslim or a non-Muslim expatriate in the UAE.
Any of the legal heirs can apply to the Shariah Court to institute succession proceedings, and this procedure is only needed if the deceased has assets in the UAE and heirs intend to obtain a certificate of succession for its distribution; otherwise, it is not required. After consulting all the documents submitted in the court, the court will issue a succession certificate. The deceased’s heirs must submit their passport copies, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other relevant documents to verify their relationship with the deceased as a piece of evidence and for the court’s satisfaction for the issuance of the succession certificate. Moreover, they can submit a will if it is made by the deceased to distribute his assets. All the required documents must be translated into the Arabic Language. The death of any expatriate should be registered with three government institutions. The death is registered by the Ministry of Health and Prevention, the death certificate and translation are attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Department of Naturalisation and Residency cancels the visa.
The deceased’s family members can authorize anyone or any reliable person through a Special Power of Attorney (SPOA) to deal with all the legal obligations and legal formalities regarding obtaining a Succession Certificate. All family members are required to sign that application form. The SPOA should be notarized by the notary public of the court of the relevant jurisdiction.
Before initiating the application process for obtaining a succession certificate, one should know what a succession certificate is and why it is required, its legal status? The Succession Certificate is a legal document that establishes the relationship of legal heirs of the deceased with him and the legality of heirs as successors to the deceased’s estate and assets. The Succession Certificate is required to distribute the deceased’s estate and assets in UAE as per shares defined in the certificate among his lawful heirs.