Al-Wasiyyah: Will Writing & Estate Planning Service
Writing a will can help a person achieve peace of mind in the knowledge that their financial affairs and the distribution of their estate would be carried out according to their wishes. It is a legal document that is used, following a person’s death to apply for a grant of probate from the probate registry. This document provides the executor with the legal right to deal with a deceased person’s estate, which includes their property, money and possessions.
The will allows a testator to appoint an executor and listing of debts, the estate of the testator, and beneficiaries. It provides for estate distribution and appointment of guardians for minor children and the creation of trusts for the maintenance of dependants.
Muslims have been provided with guidance on estate distribution following death. A key element of this is the faraid law of succession which determines the list of shariah heirs and the share of proportions to which they are entitled. These rules are based on a number of Qur’anic verses, primarily surah an-Nisa 11, 12 and 176.
In addition, the practice of the Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him show clearly the importance placed by our shariah on this issue. For example, in a hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari, we have been reminded to ‘give the appointed portions to those entitled to them, then whatever remains is for the nearest male’.
The Importance of a Will
A valid will written in England empowers the appointed executor(s) to carry out their role and put into place the wishes of the testator.
When a person dies without a valid will, he or she is said to have died intestate. Whenever this happens the rules of intestacy would apply in distributing the estate of the deceased. These rules however, are not the same as the faraid estate distribution. In other words, should a person die intestate, or their will was not accepted for probate, then the rules of intestacy will apply and he or she would not have adhered to the shariah for their end-of-life preparations.
For this reason, as Muslims living in a non-Muslim country, it becomes necessary to have a valid will; so that we may distribute our estate upon our death as we have been instructed by our beloved Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him. We are fortunate, because living in England, through writing a will it is possible to meet the requirements of our religion and the law of the land.
Another reason why it is important to have a valid will is because it is a key element of estate planning; potentially helping to reduce the amount of tax payable on a deceased person’s estate. This is especially important for property owners because of the 40% inheritance tax (IHT) payable to HMRC on estates above £325,000. Probate cannot be registered before tax is paid, potentially leaving the estate of the deceased in legal limbo.
A key legal consideration for parents is the guardianship of minors. Under English law should both parents be deceased, the children would be taken into social security care. This may have a profound impact upon the social and religious welfare of the minors. Writing a will could help to alleviate the distress caused should this particular situation arise by appointing guardians who are willing and with whom the children have a good rapport. The testator can take steps to ensure that the guardianship is arranged so that the emotional, social and religious welfare of the children could be maintained.
Our will writing service is open to anyone who is interested in putting their minds to rest as regards the distribution of their estate in preparation for their death. The process of preparing a legal document that can be accepted by the probate registry indicates our love and care towards our beneficiaries.
Ibn ‘Umar (RA) reported God’s Messenger ﷺ as saying:
“It is the duty of a Muslim man who has something which is to be given as a bequest not to have it for two nights without having his will written regarding it.”
(Bukhari and Muslim)
Summary of Services
An hour-long initial discussion in order to understand the needs and requirements of the testator. This meeting is provided as a service to the community and as such would not incur a fee.
Following this meeting if the testator would like to instruct us for the purposes of preparing a will, we will note down the necessary details for preparing a draft document.
Once a final draft is agreed a paper copy will be prepared. The fee for this service is £250 for a basic will without trusts. We can also offer probate and will storage services.
Could I write a will myself
Yes. An English will requires a testator, beneficiaries, and two witnesses. A will written for another country however may have to be a more precise document because of the variety of legal traditions (civil law, common law, Shariah and customary law) which have legal standing and the different land laws which may impact on property ownership.
When should I write a will?
A will should be understood primarily as a means to appoint an executor. He or she will have the power to act on our behalf once we have passed away. As Muslims, we should also remember that we are required to ensure that our worldly and spiritual debts are paid. In other words, a will is necessary to enable our debts to be settled even if we are unable to pay when we are alive.
Why should you use us?
We are friendly and professional and have extensive knowledge and experience of estate planning and will writing for properties in England and abroad.
Do I need to have two separate wills in England, one that is Islamic and one which is English?
No. We are able to prepare a single document in England that will be a valid will and meet the requirements of the shariah.
If our religion has the faraid rules why do I still need a valid will to follow it?
This is because in England the rules of intestacy would automatically apply in the event of death without a valid will. These rules provide a strict distribution of the estate of a deceased person and does not follow the faraid rules. In England, the only way to follow the shariah for our end-of-life preparations is to have a will. Depending on our circumstances, it may include other features, such as providing an opportunity to reduce inheritance tax liabilities and the appointment of guardians for dependants below the age of eighteen.
I have small children, not much in terms of wealth and I am not a property owner, so why would I need a will for the purpose of distributing my estate?
The concept of ‘wealth’ in Islam is actually much more general and includes things which do not necessarily have a monetary value; and includes especially our children.
However, when Allah (SWT) provides us with wealth we have a duty and an obligation to ensure that we follow His command to the best of our abilities as regards this wealth. For children this would mean, amongst other things teaching them to love Allah and His Messenger, may peace and blessings be upon him. In the case of minor children whose parents have both passed away, if a guardianship agreement is not place then they would be taken into social care. If this were to happen, it is questionable whether they would be able to practice and learn the tenants of the faith.
This illustrates the importance of having a properly prepared valid will in place; because it can provide a means through which we can protect the welfare of our minor children, even if we are no longer physically around.
I have never really cared about wealth. Furthermore, I think that my children will take care of my estate as I would like to leave it all to them anyway, so why would I need a will?
The process of preparing a will includes listing debts, properties, and bank accounts. By having this list whilst we are alive, we would help our heirs to distribute our estate following our death.
About the Al-Wasiyyah Team
The opportunity to provide a will writing and estate planning service is a humbling experience for Hazim Jais because it has allowed him to help individuals to meet their religious and social obligations. He is a member of the Society of Will Writers in England and As-Salihin Trustee Berhad in Malaysia. He holds a LLB (Hons) law degree and MA in Islamic Studies both from Birkbeck College, University of London.
She is able to provide estate planning advice and will writing services for properties in Malaysia and England. Hartini is a member of the Society of Will Writers, As-Salihin Trustee Berhad in Malaysia and Rockwill Malaysia. She holds a Bsc (Hons) Information Technology from University Technology MARA (UiTM).