ISLAMIC WILLS – STRUCTURE AND IMPORTANCE
In crafting your Estate Plan, particularly your Will, the involvement of an experienced professional is crucial to ensuring that the Will complies with the law; whether Islamic law or common law. This is especially vital where you are unfamiliar with Islamic Estate distribution guidelines, as the process can be quite daunting. We have therefore, identified the need to explain the structure and importance of an Islamic Will to enable you deploy the right approach to drawing up your Will according to Islamic guidelines.
The writer of the Will (a Testator) is referred to as Al-Musi in Islam, and the one on whose behalf a Will is made (or a Legatee) is referred to as Al-Musa lahu. The Islamic Will is called Al-Wasiyya and it comes into effect after the Testator’s death. Al-Wasiyya can only be executed after payment of funeral expenses and all outstanding debts.
The following mandatory disbursements must be considered prior to distribution of an Estate:
- Payment of funeral expenses
- Payment of the deceased’s debts
- Distribution of the remaining Estate amongst the heirs according to Sharia
Features of the Al-Wasiyya
- The Al-Wasiyya details assignment of rights, bequests and legacies, instructions and admonishments.
- No specific wording is necessary for its development.
- Usually includes clear instructions by the Al-Musi to execute after his death.
- Specifies two witnesses who should participate in declaration of the Al-Wasiyya.
- Is executed after payment of debts and funeral expenses. The majority view is that debts to Allah such as Zakh, obligatory expiation etc., should be paid whether mentioned in the Will or not.
The structure of Al-Wasiyya comprises:
- Distribution of the Inheritance according to the Quran’s guidelines
- For men and women
- Other relatives and orphans
- Executors and guidance
- Burial arrangements
- Custody of minors
- Debts and expenses
- Distribution of the reminder of the Estate
The structure of an Islamic Will (Al-Wasiyya) – permits the deceased to gift one-third of his or her Estate in any way he or she sees fit. This share can include charitable contributions (Zakat – which we covered last week) or a gift to someone dear to the decedent, who is not included in the pre-set slate of inheritors.
Importance of the Islamic Will
It is extremely important for a Muslim to leave a Will that is in accordance with Islamic guidelines, as absence of one will very likely result in the person’s Estate being distributed in a non-Islamic manner. If a Muslim dies without leaving an Islamic Will, there is very little the beneficiaries can do in ensuring or forcing distribution of the deceased’s Estate according to the Quran’s dictates. If all the heirs wish to distribute the Estate in a different manner, Islam permits them to do so. However, this must be mutually agreed, and without any force or pressure applied on any one individual.
FBN Trustees comprises a team of experts who understand Islamic dictates in regards to Estate Planning and development of the Al-Wasiyya. Contact us today and let us guide you in developing your Islamic Will and preserving your legacy. Call, text or send a WhatsApp message to +234 (0) 805 4000 299, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request a consultation with one of our experts. Connect with us on Twitter – @fbnquest, on Facebook or LinkedIn at fbnquest.
Also tune in to the Legacy Series radio show on Classic 97.3 FM Lagos by 7pm on Mondays or Cool 96.9FM Abuja by 8.30am on Tuesdays for more insights on Trusts, Wills, Executorship and Estate Administration.
Visit www.fbnquest.com/legacyseries for more information.
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