Have You Made Your Will?
‘It is not right for any Muslim who has anything to bequeath that they may pass even two nights without having their will written.’ (Prophet of Allah (saw))
Under English law, if someone dies without having written a will his or her property does not automatically pass on to those who the deceased would have chosen to be the natural inheritors. Furthermore, inheritance tax may have to be paid to the government from the estate of the deceased, and many legal complications will have to be sorted out to save the distress of the deceased’s heirs.
In Britain, about 70% of people die without making a will, this means that their hard-earned property – their home, savings, and personal belongings – are not distributed amongst their relatives as they would have liked.
Making a will is simple. However, to maker sure that your will is legally valid you should get professional advice from a solicitor. A Muslim solicitor will be in a better position to help you in matters of dividing your estate according to Shari’ah (Islamic Law).
Before seeing a solicitor you should make sure of the following:
Calculate the value of your estate Your estate is money, land, property, and all other material possessions after deducting all your liabilities such as outstanding debts, loans, etc.
Appointment of executor(s) Executor(s) is the persons who carry out the instructions contained in a will. You can choose between one and four people such as your spouse, relative, a friend, or anyone whom you trust. It can even be your solicitor or a combination of these people.
Find two witnesses Witnesses cannot be the people who will benefit from your will.
Appoint a guardian If you have any children under the age of 18 years, it is advisable to appoint a guardian for them in case they are left without both parents. Make sure the appointed guardian is willing to take responsibility.
A will according to the Shari’ah should contain the following:
A declaration of your faith in Islam.
Instructions to the executors/relatives of your will to bury your body according to the rites prescribed in Islam.
Directions to your executors/relatives to pay your funeral expenses and debts including debts to Allah (such as Zakah).
Directions to your executors and other authorities to pay legacies or bequests to charities, Islamic institutions, friends, or relatives who are not considered heirs under Islamic law.
This portion must not exceed one-third of your entire estate after burial costs, debts and other expenses have been paid, except when a person has no surviving blood relatives.
Directions to your executors and other authorities to divide the remaining two-thirds of your estate amongst your heirs into shares fixed according to Shari’ah (Islamic Law).
Legacies are usually gifts of money.
Bequests are usually gifts or items of property.
Estate is your money, property, and material possessions.
Leaving a contribution in your will in the form of sadaqah to some charitable institution is surely a great and noble decision. It will be deemed as sadaqah-i-jariah (an everlasting sadaqah).
In your will, you can leave parts of your estate as sadaqah, such as:
A gift of money.
An item of value such as a house, a car, etc.
A share of your residuary estate (the residuary of your estate is the sum total left after paying out debts, bills taxes).