Islamic Estate Planning is the process of writing a will to ensure that, after your death, your estate is distributed in accordance with Islamic Law as well as the law of the land.
For a Muslim, writing a will is one of the most important duties. In fact, Islamic tradition states:
“It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without including it in his will”. – Sahih Al Bukhari
How is an Islamic Will different from a normal will?
In a normal will, a person can leave his estate to whomever he wishes. He can also decide how his estate must be distributed. In the UK, there have been cases where a person had left his entire estate for a friend or charity while leaving nothing for his own family members.
But Islam does not allow a Muslim to do so. The Quran has a specific set of rules about how the estate of a person must be distributed after his or her death.
A Muslim is required to leave at least two-thirds of his estate for his surviving relatives and it must be distributed in fixed shares as specified in the Quran. The remaining one-third of the estate can be distributed according to the individual’s wishes.
How to make an Islamic Will?
The first step is to make a list of your assets (properties, possessions, savings etc) and determine their value.
The next step is to write your will in accordance with the law of the UK as well as Islamic Law. To do so, make sure of the following:
- The will must identify you as the author and mention that this is your last will and that all previous wills and codicils, if any, are revoked
- At the time of writing the will, you must be 18 years old or above and have a sound mind
- In your will,
- You must appoint executor(s). [The executor becomes responsible for administering and distributing your assets after your death. You can choose more than one executor. An executor can also be a beneficiary of your will.]
- You must clearly state how your estate must be distributed. [It must be in accordance with the rules set out in the Quran. At least two-thirds of the estate must go to surviving relatives and the remaining can be distributed according to your wishes.]
- You must specify funeral wishes in accordance with Islamic tradition
- You must appoint a guardian, if needed, for children under the age of 18.
- The will must be signed and dated by you in the presence of two adults, independent witnesses and then signed by them in your presence [The witnesses cannot be the beneficiaries of your will or the spouse/civil partner of the beneficiaries; the two witnesses cannot be related to each other]
To make sure that your will is valid and that you haven’t missed out on anything, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a solicitor. A solicitor will ensure that your will satisfies all your wishes and is in full accordance with Islamic tradition as well as the law of the UK.
If you do not have an Islamic Will in place at the time of your death, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy in the UK and not according to the rules specified in the Quran.
So, it is absolutely essential for a practising Muslim in the UK to make an Islamic Will.
At Aristone Solicitors, we have solicitors specialising in such matters and who are well-versed with the Islamic wills and laws. Therefore, if you need any guidance with your wills or probate matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.