Many people in the UK ignore the importance of inheritance planning, but Shariah law implies that one of the most important duties a Muslim can do during their life is to make an Islamic Will.

Introduction

It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without writing a Will about it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

The Quran highlights the importance of creating an Islamic Will. Under the Sharia, a Muslim with wealth is duty-bound to write a Will. To fulfil this religious obligation, Muslims need to ensure they have executed a Sharia-compliant Will, not simply a secular Will.

Creating a Will which is compliant can be a complex process which is why it is important to instruct a law firm which specialises in drafting Islamic Wills. Our expert wills, probate, and estate planning team can help you create your Sharia Will, providing the advice and guidance you need to ensure everything is complete, compliant, and legally binding.

Making a Will is inexpensive and could save your family time, money, and stress in the future. You will also be in safe hands knowing that your Will is compliant with Islamic law as well as English and Welsh laws.

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Our solicitors can also offer legal assistance with:

  • Administrating estates and probate
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Trusts

Why Make a Will?

A Will is important as it provides an opportunity to set out your final wishes with regards to your money, possessions, and funeral arrangements. By setting out your wishes this helps avoid potential family disputes and ensures that your assets are inherited by the right individuals. However, making a Will is particularly important to British Muslims, as the UK in a non-Islamic country and their assets will not be distributed in-line with Islamic legislation if they die without a Will (dying intestate).
The significance of inheritance planning in Islam is clear, as outlined by the following four duties that must be carried out when a Muslim dies:

  • Payment of their funeral costs
  • Payment of their debts
  • Execution of their Will (including probate)
  • Distribution of their belongings in accordance with Shariah law

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The Quran specifically details how shares of an estate must be distributed to each family member (for examples please see below).
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Shariah Considerations

Domestic British law is, of course, different from Shariah law, which means that if you die without an accurate and legally valid Islamic Will in the UK, it will be handled without your religious beliefs in mind.

It is important to note that if you are a Muslim and you die without leaving a Will, you are deemed to have died ‘intestate’. This means that your estate will be distributed according to the UK rules on intestacy which unfortunately do not match up with the rules of Sharia.

Your inheritance will automatically be divided amongst family members in accordance with the rules of intestacy, which could lead to family disputes and a lengthy, stressful probate process.

Under UK intestacy rules, any inheritance belonging to those without any surviving relatives that qualify for inheritance will be handed over to the Crown (the state).

To avoid the rules of intestacy, a Will must be legally valid in the UK. It is therefore of vital importance that you seek the help and advice of a legal professional to ensure that your Will complies with both Islamic and UK laws.

Legal considerations

Muslims should always ensure that they write a precise Will that clearly states their wishes and preferences relating to how their estate should be shared out.

Due to the importance of inheritance in Islam, Muslims should seek legal advice to write their Islamic Will in a way that conforms to Shariah law yet remains legally binding in the UK.

Our specialist team ensures the process of writing an Islamic Will is simple, whilst ensuring your estate will be distributed amongst family members following the specific rules set out in the Quran.

Who is Entitled to What? (Examples)

With a standard Will, people are free to plan their inheritance and write their Wills with certain beneficiaries as they see fit, however, those who are devoted to Islam are required to follow detailed guidelines regarding who should get what percentage of the estate they leave behind.
Some of the key inheritance rules of Islam under Shariah law include the following:

  • Husband – Entitled to 50% of the estate if the deceased has no surviving children or 25% (1/4) if they do have children.
  • Wife – Entitled to 25% of the inheritance if the deceased has no children or 12.5% if they do have children.
  • Daughters – Entitled to 50% if the deceased has no sons and only one daughter, or 66.6% if they have multiple daughters and no sons (shared equally between them)
  • Son and daughter – Siblings share a percentage of the estate with a 2:1 ratio in favour of the sons.
  • Father – Entitled to 16.6% if the deceased has children.
  • Mother – Entitled to 33.3% if the deceased has no siblings or children, or 16.6% if they do.

Understandably, some people may want their spouse to receive more of their estate than they are entitled to under Islamic inheritance rules. It is possible to amend who inherits what portion of your estate if the above guidelines do not suit your wishes.

There is a wide misconception that a Muslim cannot change how their assets are distributed, however, it is entirely possible to do so. To make an amendment, the person making the Will simply needs to make written consent.

What are Bequests (Wasiyya)?

Islamic Wills provide the flexibility to allow individuals to disseminate up to one-third of their estate as they wish, without restriction, and you do not have to follow the rules set out by Sharia law. This allowance with one-third of the person’s estate is called a bequest or Wasiyya.

It is not a requirement that you use a bequest and you can simply apply the Islamic Will rules to your entire estate if you wish, however it is there if you want to use it.

Some common ones include leaving money to charity or to leave a certain special item to a loved one, while others use them to leave a Kaffarah (a payment to cover the fasts and prayers they missed during their lifetime).

Two simple rules must be followed with regards to Bequests:

  1. Anything you leave in a bequest (and the person it is being left to) must be specified clearly in your Will.
  2. The assets left in a bequest must not be worth more than one-third of your entire inheritance.

Inheritance Tax

Sharia law provides for strict guidelines when making a Will, so without specialist legal advice, this may lead to unexpected inheritance tax charges upon death.

Because only a fraction of the estate is left to the surviving spouse, it, therefore, could potentially open up the deceased’s estate to inheritance tax. There are also other rules and restrictions on how couples may hold property and other assets together, including their
home.

We understand the laws surrounding Inheritance Tax and can advise and help you draft your Islamic Will in the most tax-efficient way.

Trusts

A Will must be legally valid so that the courts can enforce its provisions upon death if enforcement is required. Given that Sharia is not recognised under English law, how does a British Muslim ensure distribution upon death takes place according to Sharia principles?

The simplest way to overcome this issue is to put assets "under trust", but only after death has occurred. A trust is a distinct legal entity recognised under English law and is controlled by a trustee on behalf of beneficiaries which are usually the family members.

Specific trustees can, therefore, be nominated within the Will, and the Will can also place upon the trustees the obligation of following Sharia principles. The Will can then be implemented according to Sharia law, in a legally enforceable way.

The simplest type of trust recognised under English law is a "bare trust". This requires trustees to establish the Sharia position and then distribute the wealth of the deceased accordingly.

Why use a solicitor to make a will

Our specialist lawyers can guide you step by step through the process, taking the worry off your hands. Some of the benefits of writing your Islamic Will with us include:

  • Our professional service allows you to create a Will efficiently.
  • Peace of mind in knowing that your loved ones (and assets) will be protected when you are no longer around.
  • A guarantee that your Will adheres to English and Welsh laws.
  • Our team can also handle the process of probate on behalf of you and your family.
  • Your estate will be distributed in line with Islamic/Sharia law.
  • We have Islamic Will experts who can check your Will thoroughly to ensure that it is accurate and there is no chance of it becoming void when it is executed.

It can be overwhelming knowing what to include in a Will, but it is particularly challenging for those who have to comply with religious and domestic laws. Writing a Will is not a task that should be undertaken without a plan and therefore it is highly advisable that you contact our team for more information and to ask any questions that you may have.

Fees

Making a Sharia-compliant Will is a quick and simple process when using a solicitor. We offer competitive fixed fees and hourly rates where appropriate depending on the size of the estate.

Why Choose Us?

Our solicitors are experts in Islamic law and so are ideally positioned to explain the
complexities of creating a Sharia-compliant Will.

Our lawyers can also offer advice relating to the appointment of executors and trustees,
charitable gifting, and any funeral requests that you may have.

We have helped many Islamic families across the country through the sensitive process of
drafting an Islamic compliant Will.

How to Get in Contact

Please call us on 01234 350 244 or email us at info@dvsolicitors.com for further information and advice about our services. We will happily provide you a free initial discussion and quote.
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