Islamic Wills

‘Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “It is a duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without including it in his will”.’ Sahih al-Bukhari

A Muslim with wealth is duty-bound to write a will under Sharia law, not letting one night pass without doing so. Muslims must ensure they have created a Sharia-compliant will, not simply a secular will.

Many legal advisors do not have the knowledge required to execute a Sharia law compliant will. This makes the process so much harder than it needs to be. At Farani Taylor our Islamic will solicitors are highly experienced in wills, trusts and estate planning and can advise you on all matters relating to a Sharia will, ensuring your will is Sharia law complicit whilst still reflecting your wishes.

How our Islamic Will Solicitors could help?

Our highly experienced team of Islamic will solicitors can support and guide you on every matter relating to an Islamic will. We have a wealth of experience in working with all types of estates and the extensive knowledge of Sharia law required to execute a compliant will that is also legally binding under UK legislation.

Inheritance tax laws and preserving an estate for beneficiaries and loved ones can be complex, but our team of experts can support you in making the right decisions with bespoke, knowledgeable advice for your circumstances.

What is an Islamic Will?

A will is a legally-binding document that states how your assets should be distributed in the event of your death. In a non-Islamic will, you simply leave what you want to anyone of your choosing.

In Islam, however, it is pre-determined who inherits our assets (read the early verses of Surah an-Nisa (chapter 4) for the verses on this).  

In a non-Muslim country you will need to create a will that sets out exactly what you want to happen in great detail, otherwise domestic laws will revert back to their own laws and not the laws of Islam in the absence of a will. As long as you state clearly your wishes, English law or any other domestic law, will not come into effect.

We often get asked what should be included in a will and here are a few suggestions of what they usually detail:

  • Who will be your executor;
  • Who would be the legal guardians of your children if you and your spouse die;
  • The gifts you want to give to named beneficiaries or trust;
  • How your estate should be distributed;
  • Your funeral arrangement and burial wishes;

If you would like more information and advice on creating an Islamic will, please contact one of our Islamic will solicitors who will provide you with free, no obligation advice on your circumstances.

What services we provide?

Our Islamic Wills have been authenticated by Shaykh Sulaiman Gani, an Imam and a specialist Sharia scholar in the Fiqh of Islamic Inheritance.

We at Farani Taylor are experts in this field. Our Islamic will solicitors can explain the tax liability should you have a basic Islamic Will and offer advice on what trust planning you might require to utilise all available reliefs and bands.

We have been awarded a tender with the East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre to provide Islamic Wills to their members to assist them in fulfilling their Islamic duty. This huge honour demonstrates the trust and knowledge our team holds, we pride ourselves on making our clients’ needs at the forefront of everything we do and will work closely with you to ensure you receive the very best advice and care available.

How to Write a Sharia Will?

Under a Sharia will, at least two-thirds of a Muslim’s estate must be distributed among surviving relatives in the event of their death. One-third can be bequeathed to anyone of your choosing who is not entitled to a fixed share, such as a charity.

The individual may also wish to leave a Sadaqah Jariya, a type of perpetual charitable giving in the cause of Allah, a virtuous act designed to provide rewards in the afterlife. 

Whilst Islam outlines the key components of  a Muslim’s will, under and Islamic Will, Muslim could:

  • Decide your funeral and burial arrangement and leave your funeral wishes
  • Decide what to leave to whom
  • Appoint your executors
  • Appoint the guardians and make provisions to your children
  • Specify the charities you want to support

Also, if you are writing a Sharia will, we suggest considering:

  • You need to value your assets
  • You need to keep your will up to date
  • You need to keep your will safe
  • You could protect your estate for vulnerable family members
  • If you own a business and it’s qualified for Business quality relief, extra IHT saving could be obtained

Distribution

The Quran states that you can leave up to ⅓ of your estate to the less fortunate or a charity of your choice. It also states that a Muslim should provide their heir with their rightful inheritance. Our Islamic will solicitors can support you in every facet of the will writing process, ensuring it is both Sharia and English law complicit.

Inheritance Tax and Inheritors

Inheritance Tax is a 40% tax added on to your taxable assets at the date of your death. You have two Nil Rate Bands before paying tax. Anything you pass to a spouse is free of tax and  you can pass any unused parts of your Nil Rate Bands to them.

An Islamic Will, however, distributes in fixed shares, not allowing a Muslim to fully benefit from these tax advantages. This could mean an estate has to pay much more tax than if they had a standard UK Will, with everything passing to the spouse. 

An Islamic Will with a life interest may provide more tax advantages. Our team of experts can advise you on how to strategically document your wishes so your will is written in accordance with both Sharia and UK law, helping you make the most of the tax advantages available.

It’s important to ensure you document your wishes correctly from a domestic law and Islamic law perspective, it is always advisable to speak with an Islamic will writing specialist.

The Rules of Bequest

What are bequests?

Under Islamic law, your estate gets divided up in a particular way. An Islamic will differs from a standard will in one other crucial respect.

Islam provides you the freedom to do what you would like with up to a maximum of 1/3 of your estate. Islamic rules about who gets what can apply to all of your assets if you want them to, but you are also permitted to have them apply to only 2/3 of your estate.

The remaining 1/3  (known as bequest) can be distributed as you wish, subject to the  below:

The rules are quite simple.

  1. Any assets you leave must be specific (e.g. a piece of jewelry, a car, 1/3 of my assets left to a charity);
  2. Anything you leave must be, in total, a maximum of 1/3 of your entire estate. For example, if your estate is worth £100,000 and you left a ring, a car, and gold coin which were collectively worth £5,000 (i.e. 5% of your estate) then that is fine.

Some hanafis like to leave a certain portion of their wealth as a kaffarah (compensation payment) for any missed fasts and prayers. All of your stipulations need to be carefully drafted so your will is in accordance with both Sharia and English law, speak to one of our Islamic will solicitors who can support you in detailing your Bequest wishes in a concise, legally binding manner.

How does Islamic Inheritance Work?
Open How does Islamic Inheritance Work?

The Quran outlines that after all funeral expenses, all debts and obligations and any bequests to charity are made there are fixed inheritors.

Up to one third of your estate may be set aside and given to who you would like. You could decide to provide for someone not inheriting from the fixed amounts or a charitable organisation. If the latter then this can satisfy your responsibility for Sadaqah Jariyah.

The remaining estate is distributed according to Surah Al-Nisa verses 7-14. They are your closest family members. There are some exemptions, for instance, if a relative is a non-believer then they cannot inherit.

The shares are dependent on who is alive at the date of your death. The Quran states that ‘men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, and women shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind.” (Quran 4:7). A son is entitled to double the share of a daughter. This is because males have a responsibility to maintain the financial security of the family. The male heirs are responsible for using the additional share to look after female heirs.

Shares to parents are equal.

Will an Islamic Will cause me an adverse tax position?
Open Will an Islamic Will cause me an adverse tax position?

It is important to have a grasp of how UK inheritance laws work and what that means to your Will.

Further, there are two bands prior to paying tax, the nil rate band, currently £325,000 and the residential nil rate band currently £175,000. The latter can only be used on a primary residence and passed to direct descendants. Anything outside these are taxed at 40%. You can pass these bands to your spouse on your death.

There are also certain exemptions and reliefs. Arguably the most valuable  is the Spousal Exemption. Assets gifted between spouses during their lifetime and on death are exempt from inheritance tax, assuming the recipient is UK domiciled.

So why is this important?

These exemptions and reliefs are not reflected in your Shari’ah distribution and can lead to a Muslim couple paying more inheritance tax than a non-Muslim. This is due to assets not being passed directly to your spouse and to the fixed inheritors.

This is particularly problematic with uneven estates, where the one spouse owns majority of the assets in their name only.

UK Shari’ah experts have come up with a method of ensuring that the spousal exemption can be utilised and surviving spouses are protected. This is by utilising a life interest trust. The ultimate beneficiaries are as per Surah Al-Nisa verses 7-14 but the surviving spouse has a life interest over the assets until they pass away. Thus solving the tax issue.

This is why getting advice is so important. If you get a standard Islamic Will then you may be causing an inheritance tax bill for your family that they need not have had.

Why should I draft a will?
Open Why should I draft a will?

Although Islam sets out the rules for what happens to your assets after your death, it is still important to legally document your wishes. Making a will is beneficial for many reasons like saving inheritance tax fees, guardianship of your children and  avoiding family disputes. You can also detail your funeral and burial wishes.

Our Islamic wills solicitors can detail what is necessary to state in your will and discuss with you your circumstances, creating a bespoke strategy to make your Islamic will writing simple.

Under British law, how will Sharia Will Work?
Open Under British law, how will Sharia Will Work?

Sharia wills tend to be written by people who are not legally qualified to do so. This often means that legal consideration has not been given in the drafting of the will and in some cases, can make the will void in the event of your death.

In the worst-case scenario, ‘homemade’ wills won’t be legally-binding in the UK which can make your estate difficult to administer. This could potentially incur unnecessary tax or legal expenses which could be avoided with professional legal guidance.

Planning ahead is important to ensuring your wishes are upheld. Our team of expert Islamic will solicitors can help you work through tax legislation and English and Sharia law stipulations, providing you with peace of mind that your wishes are legally binding in the event of your death.

Key Contacts

If you are looking for help and guidance or have a question relating to Islamic Wills, please contact us today on +44 (0)20 7242 1666.