It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without writing a Will about it.”
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 that 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.
Our solicitors can also offer legal assistance with:
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 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 is 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:
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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: