The recent legislative changes announced on Saturday November 7, 2020 amending the Personal Status Law, Federal Penal Code and the Federal Penal Procedural Law with particular reference to wills, inheritance and divorce matters has been welcomed by expatriates in the UAE.
Wills and inheritance
At the date of writing this article, the official publication of the legislative changes has not been released and further clarification is required. However, it is apparent that expatriates living in the UAE will now have the option to apply the law of their home country/nationality to their inheritance in the UAE. The courts would also consider whether or not a will has been in place.
The new laws will provide more confidence and peace of mind to expatriates that their home country law can be applied.
With regards to wills and inheritance, these reforms have consolidated provisions, which have been in place within the UAE Personal Status Law, where expatriates have the option to apply their home country laws. With this legal framework there will be more emphasis on the courts to actually apply the home country law in practice to inheritance matters when one passes away. Having a will in place in the UAE is still highly recommended as UAE law applies to real estate owned by expatriates in the UAE and is an exception to the home country laws applying to inheritance matters.
To safeguard your assets, family and to avoid any complications it is recommended to have a will in the UAE as your home country laws will not enable you to reflect your own personal wishes, dictate specific asset distribution requirements, or deal with your specific gifts/requests and guardianship wishes. Further, without a will in the UAE, real estate owned in the UAE will be distributed as per UAE law.
The new laws will provide more confidence and peace of mind to expatriates that their home country law can be applied. These legislative changes will no doubt make the region more attractive to foreign investors and expatriates in the UAE and will encourage expatriates to remain in the UAE for a longer term.
This is a positive development by the UAE Government and will be well received by expatriates in the UAE and overseas investors.
The new legislative changes now allow expatriates seeking to divorce in the UAE to apply the laws of the country in which their marriage took place in divorce proceedings in the UAE. Previously the laws of each spouse’s country of nationality was applicable with the husband’s nationality taking precedence if both spouses held different passports. Now the country where the marriage took place has jurisdiction. This is a significant development relating to divorce, and division of assets in the UAE.
The impact of the new amendments on wills, inheritance and divorce matters in the UAE will become apparent once the official publication of the legislation is released.
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— The author of this article is Nita Maru, Managing Partner of TWS Legal Consultants.
Licensed by The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department