It is a given that at some point we are all going to die. It may not be something we think about or even want to think about, but there is no hiding from it.
However there is one thing that a lot of us either just don’t consider, or keep putting off as we think we have plenty of time left. That is making a will, in particular an Islamic Will. We have to remember though that life is not guaranteed and there is no certainty that we will reach pension age. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we ensure that we have a legal will in place sooner rather than later.
Making a will isn’t just about making sure your final wishes are carried out once you are gone, but also to ensure your Islamic duties are fulfilled. Living in the west, the rules of inheritance are different to the islamic rules of inheritance if there is no will in place and therefore it is of the utmost importance to ensure you have a will that is legal in the country you are in, but also meets the Islamic rules of inheritance.
Excuses for not making a will.
Some people don’t bother making a will and justify it with a number of reasons.
- It is too expensive to have one made.
- They feel like they don’t have much to justify making a will.
- The idea that family will be fair and divide out their assets fairly after their death.
You can make a will yourself following guidelines to make it legal and if the will is going to be straightforward and no complicated divisions of assets. However as it is a legal document it is highly advisable to get a solicitor to assist you. Contact a few to find out their prices as prices can vary a lot. It is also important to find a solicitor that knows about the Islamic rules of inheritance if you are unsure what they are and want to be certain that your division of assets is done correctly.
A will is important even if you feel like you do not have much and it is not worth going to all that trouble and effort.
It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without writing a will about it.
Never rely on family and friends to simply divide out anything you have fairly and in accordance to sharia law. There could be disputes over small issues you had never considered, so it is best to set out your wishes clearly in a will.
This is vital in particular for those who may have converted to Islam and have non muslim family. The wills have a paragraph stating your religion and that you would like to be buried according to Muslim Laws and traditions. You also specify that no autopsy or embalming is to be done unless required.
Division of Assets
Islamic rules of inheritance are very clear in who inherits and what percentage. So for example I hadn’t realised that I must include my parents in my will and they are entitled to inherit if they survive me. One third is allowed to be left to whoever you wish. I am not going to get into this post about percentages and division. However, I would suggest that if you are not going to get a solicitor who knows about Islamic inheritance, to ensure you research them yourself to ensure you divide up your assets in the correct way.
One other reason to have a will made, and an important reason if you have children, is guardianship of your children. You need to ensure that your children are looked after by someone you want to be caring for them if anything happens to both parents. Again it is not something we want to think about but it is of the utmost importance that this is made clear for the sake of your children.
The Process of Making an Islamic Will
Although I do not have a lot to leave behind and my will was straight forward, I felt more comfortable seeking the help of a solicitor to ensure I was doing it correctly according to Sharia Law. I had recently come across a local solicitor who specialised in Islamic Wills and therefore made contact with her and started the process.
The solicitor will discuss with you what your wishes are and make a draft for you. My solicitor worked out for me what percentage immediate family who are entitled to inherit were entitled to and I also specified certain money and items to be left only for my girls equally. (With one third you are entitled to gift as you wish).
You can make changes to the draft if you not happy and once you are happy the final document will be prepared. You need to be entirely happy as otherwise there are likely to be charges if changes are to be made after the final document is printed out.
Once you have the document you then have to sign it in front of two witnesses who cannot be anyone who is inheriting from your will or relatives. The final step is to decide where to store it. There are secure places which will charge you for keeping your will or you can keep it at home and send copies to trusted family and friends.
If you do decide to write a will without the help of a solicitor then I suggest you do detailed research into what makes a will legal and make sure you follow the guidelines to prevent anyone trying to claim the will is not valid after your death.