Legally, there is not much difference as both are valid in England and Wales. Practically, the difference lies in how your wealth is to be distributed and who your heirs are. In an Islamic Will your wealth is distributed in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah to your closest relatives. In a normal Will you choose your heirs and how your wealth is to be distributed. Therefore, it is important that the person drafting your Islamic Will is well versed in the intricacies of Islamic laws of inheritance.

Any Muslim of 18 years or over can make a Will as long as you are of sound mind and knowledge – in other words you understand what you are doing and why.

The Qu’ran outlines the Islamic laws of inheritance. The basic principles can be summarised as follows:-

  • All debts and expenses, including funeral and burial expenses are paid out first together with any ‘obligations to Allah’ such as unpaid zakah, mahr (bridal money) and kafarah (compensation for omitted acts of worship). What remains is your ‘estate’.
  • Your estate is divided amongst your closest relatives, namely your parents, spouse, and children, according to the shares fixed in the Qur’an. In the absence of the closest relatives, the more distant relatives such as siblings and grandparents will then be entitled to fixed shares. Please note that if your family consists of non Muslims then they are not entitled to the shares fixed in the Qu’ran. The Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) provides that non Muslims cannot inherit from a Muslim. However, please see below.
  • Up to a maximum of a 1/3rd of your estate can be given as gifts to anyone of your choice. Because of the pecking order of the heirs you may wish to bequest out of your 1/3rd to distant relatives and/or charities. Although non believers cannot inherit from Muslims, you are allowed to leave them a gift. So this 1/3rd gift allowance may be beneficial if you have non Muslim parents or relatives.

The Islamic law of inheritance is outlined in Surah An-Nisa of the Qur’an. As long as there is a male heir, namely father, son or full brother, then there are no differences of opinion between the four main schools of thought. Therefore our Wills, insha’Allah, are acceptable to the majority of Muslims. However, if you have no living male heirs then please contact us to discuss the options available to you.

It is important to consider and decide on the following before making your Will:

Who to appoint as your Executor(s). Executors are persons appointed by you to effectively be your representatives after death. It is important to appoint trustworthy and reliable individuals as they will be responsible for administering your estate and carrying out the provisions of your Will. This typically involves valuing your estate, paying out any debts, expenses and tax, dealing with the probate courts and ultimately distributing your wealth in accordance with your Will.

Who to appoint as your Guardian(s). If you have young children you should appoint Guardians in the event that both parents die before they reach the age of 18. You should choose a couple who you trust and who can offer the best care for your children and are able to give them Islamic teachings you approve of. It is particularly significant if you have non-Muslim relatives and want your children to be raised as Muslims.

Any gifts or charitable donations you would like to make. You can leave up to a maximum of 1/3rd of your estate to those not entitled to a Qu’ranic share. It is very important to note that The Inheritance (Provisions for family and Dependants) Act 1975 enables certain people to make a claim for a provision out of your estate after your death. Therefore, you should consider making a gift to people who are financially dependent upon you but are not automatically entitled to a share according to the Qu’ran. For example, illegitimate, step and adopted children have the same rights of inheritance under English law but not under Islamic law. They would be entitled to make a claim should no provision be made for them.

Broadly speaking this is everything you own at the time of your death, minus your debts. Everything you own includes your property, cars, jewellery and other personal valuables, paintings, stocks/shares, bank accounts, insurance policies, businesses interests and pensions.

Your debts include funeral and burial expenses, any tax and any ‘obligations to Allah’ such as zakat, mahr (bridal money) and kafarah.

If you own property jointly, for example with your spouse, your share in that property will form part of your estate. Under Islamic inheritance laws your share will be distributed amongst your closest relatives. Likewise if you own businesses jointly with others then your share will form part of your estate.

You don’t need to professionally value your estate for the purpose of writing your Will as it is likely to change from now until the time of your death. A rough estimation will suffice for the purpose of writing your Will and will give you an idea of the value of your estate and how your family could benefit. It will enable you to make decisions about how much to leave as gifts and whether you need to take any measures to reduce Inheritance Tax if your estate is worth more than the current tax threshold.

Inheritance Tax is payable if your estate is worth more than the current tax threshold. It is charged at a staggering 40% and could leave your loved ones with a hefty tax bill after you have passed away! So it makes sense to start thinking about tax planning to minimise the tax as much as possible.

Inheritance Tax Planning will help you to ensure that when you die everything you own goes where you want it to and very little, if anything, goes to the tax man. This could help you provide a sound financial future for your family.

At Islamic Will Writers we have Chartered Tax Advisers who can advise on all tax planning routes. If you would like to consider these options please contact us.

Under English and Welsh laws properties owned jointly are held in two ways;-

  1. Tenants in common – this is when the title deeds to the property specifies in what shares the property is owned. For example, the husband might own 60% while the wife owns 40% of the property. On the death of one, their share will pass under their Will and the survivor will keep their own share.
  2. Joint tenants – This is when the property is owned in equal shares. On the death of one owner their share passes automatically to the survivor under the survivorship rules. It does not pass under their Will. So, for example, if a couple own their home as joint tenants and the husband passes away, his share will automatically pass to his wife and not form part of his estate.

However, under Islamic law property cannot pass automatically to the survivor. It has to be distributed according to the shares specified in the Qur’an. There are two things that can be done to overcome this conflict:

  1. The type of ownership can be changed to tenancy in common. It can be specified in the deeds that each spouse owns their own share of 50% of the house. So on death of one of them the deceased share passes under the Will. This would need to be done by a Solicitor.
  2. Each spouse agrees that upon the death of other, the survivor will allow half of the property to form part of the estate of the deceased and be distributed amongst the Qur’anic heirs. In other words, agree to give up survivorship. A letter of wishes to that effect would need to be kept with the Will.

Have a query?

Not a problem! Contact us with your query and we will get back to you with advice.

Drop Us a Line