Termination of Power of Attorney: The Impact of the Principal’s Death in the UAE

power of attorney after death

Termination of Power of Attorney: The Impact of the Principal’s Death in the UAE

Power of Attorney (PoA) is a legal instrument that lets an individual, called the principal, assign authority to another person, usually an agent or an attorney-in-fact, to act on their behalf in various matters. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), understanding the implications of a PoA is particularly important due to the unique combination of civil law and Sharia principles that govern legal matters. This blog discusses what happens to a power of attorney after death and related concepts like the legal framework in the UAE, the validity of a PoA, and the necessary procedures to follow.

A Glimpse of the Power of Attorney

We must understand the basics of a Power of Attorney. It is a legal document that provides authority to an individual to make decisions or take actions on behalf of another person. There are a variety of purposes of a PoA, ranging from managing financial affairs to making healthcare decisions.

There are two main types of POA, namely general power of attorney and specific power of attorney. General Power of Attorney grants broader powers to the agent to handle different matters on behalf of the principal while specific Power of Attorney limits the agent’s powers to particular tasks or transactions.

The key components of a PoA document include the names of the principal and the agent, a copy of the passport or Emirates ID(if available), the scope of authority granted, the duration of the PoA, and any specific conditions or limitations that the attorney has to follow.


UAE’s legal framework: where civil law meets Sharia

The UAE’s legal system combines civil law and Sharia principles. Federal Law No. 5 of 1985 (Civil Transactions Law) outlines the general principles of agency relationships, which form the basis for POA arrangements. Article 954(c) states about what happens to power of attorney once deceased. In the UAE, PoAs must be notarized to be considered legally valid. The notarization process usually involves visiting the notary public, providing the required documents, and having the PoA document officially stamped and registered.


The lifespan of a PoA: When does it expire?

The duration and validity of a PoA in the UAE can vary depending on the terms specified in the document. Generally, a PoA remains valid until the principal revokes it until the specified task or period ends until the principal becomes incapacitated, or until the principal dies. One must understand that it is necessary to specify the terms and conditions in the PoA document to avoid any confusion about its validity or scope.


Power of Attorney: Does it die with the principal?

One might have the question is PoA valid after the death of the principal. The general principle, both in the UAE and globally, is that a Power of Attorney expires or becomes invalid upon the death of the principal. This means that once the principal passes away, the attorney no longer has the legal authority to act on their behalf.

In the UAE context, this principle is followed, but there are specific legal implications to consider:

  • The POA becomes invalid immediately upon the principal’s death, regardless of whether the attorney-in-fact is aware of the death.
  • Any actions taken by the attorney after the principal’s death, even if done with good intentions without knowledge of the death, may be considered invalid and could potentially lead to legal complications.
  • Upon the principal’s death, the authority to manage their affairs typically transfers to the executor of their will or their legal heirs according to the Sharia law.
  • There’s a legal obligation to notify relevant authorities, institutions, and third parties about the principal’s death and the consequent termination of the PoA.


Post-death procedures: what to do after the principal’s passing?

When a principal dies in the UAE, the following steps are to be taken:

  • The attorney-in-fact should immediately stop all activities under the PoA and notify relevant parties about the demise of the principal.
  • An official death certificate is to be obtained from the health authority. This document is crucial for all the legal procedures that follow.
  • In the UAE, the inheritance process is typically overseen by the Sharia Courts. The court will determine the legal heirs and the distribution of assets according to Sharia law, unless the deceased was a non-Muslim who left a will.
  • If the deceased left a will, the executor named in the will or appointed by the court will take over the management of the asset mentioned in the PoA.
  • Banks and other financial institutions will typically freeze the deceased’s accounts upon notification of death. Access to these accounts will be granted to the legal heirs or executors after completing the required legal procedures.


Tips to keep your PoA on point:

  • It’s advisable to review and update PoA documents regularly to ensure they reflect current wishes and circumstances.
  • Select someone who is not only capable but also trustworthy to act as your attorney-in-fact.
  • Consider consulting with a legal professional experienced in UAE law when drafting or reviewing POA documents.
  • Ensure that your attorney-in-fact is aware of their responsibilities and the limitations of their authority.
  • Be aware of the specific cultural and legal considerations in the UAE, particularly regarding inheritance and Sharia law.



Understanding what happens to a power of attorney after death is crucial for both principals and attorneys-in-fact in the UAE. While the general principle is that a PoA terminates upon the principal’s death, the unique legal landscape of the UAE adds additional layers of complexity to this process. One should keep in their mind the importance of proper notification to relevant authorities, and the transfer of authority to legal heirs or executors according to UAE law. It’s also crucial to be aware of the legal implications of actions taken under a POA after the principal’s death that could occur. Given the complexities involved, it’s highly recommended to seek professional legal advice when dealing with POA matters in the UAE that ensures compliance with local laws and helps avoid potential legal complications. 

We at POA Central understand the importance of taking control of your legal affairs. That’s why we’re dedicated to making the process of preparing a Power of Attorney document as simple as possible.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


1. What happens to a bank account when someone dies in the UAE?

When someone dies in the UAE, their bank accounts are typically frozen upon notification of death. The funds are then distributed to legal heirs or according to the deceased’s will, after the necessary legal procedures are completed through the UAE courts.

2. Is a PoA form valid after death in the UAE?

The Power of attorney form after death of the principal is considered invalid. The PoA terminates immediately upon the principal’s death, and the attorney-in-fact no longer has legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased.

3. What to do when someone dies in the UAE?

When someone dies in the UAE, you should first Obtain a death certificate from the health authority and notify relevant authorities and institutions like banks and the government. We should contact the embassy if the deceased was a foreign citizen and then begin legal procedures for inheritance and asset distribution through the courts in UAE.

4. Can a power of attorney be challenged after death in the UAE?

While a PoA itself becomes invalid after death, actions taken under the PoA while the principal was alive can potentially be challenged by heirs or other interested parties if they believe there was misconduct or misuse of the PoA.

5. How does Sharia law affect inheritance and POA in the UAE?

Sharia law plays a significant role in inheritance matters in the UAE. For Muslims, asset distribution typically follows Sharia principles unless otherwise specified in a will which is subject to certain limitations. Non-Muslims can choose to have their assets distributed according to their home country’s laws if they have a registered will in the UAE.

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