Division of a person’s estate under Sharia Law
Under Sharia Law, an individual can distribute up to a third of their estate however they wish, so long as that third passes to someone that is not already entitled to a fixed share under Sharia Law.
The remaining two thirds are distributed in accordance with Sharia Law.
A Muslim’s estate can be bequeathed to anyone in a Will who is not entitled to a fixed share, such as a charity. Muslims may wish to leave a “Sadaqah Jariya” (which is a type of perpetual charitable giving in the cause of Allah) and Muslims believe that they can reap the rewards for this beyond the grave.
Under the Law in England and Wales, if a person leaves their entire estate to their spouse who is also a resident in the UK then their estate is exempt from inheritance tax.
However, under a Sharia Compliant Will, only a percentage of the estate is left to the surviving spouse, thereby potentially opening up the deceased’s estate to inheritance tax and therefore professional advice and guidance is needed to mitigate any tax payable.
You should also review the position in which you and your spouse own any property.
The Benefits of a Sharia Compliant Will
To fulfil an important religious duty
- If you die without leaving a Will you are deemed to have died “intestate” and so your wealth will be distributed in accordance with the English rules on intestacy – which do not apply the same criteria as those laid down by the Shari’a.
It gives you peace of mind
- Ensuring that your wishes are followed avoiding unnecessary family disputes after you have passed away.
- If you have children under the age of 18, and you and your spouse should die, then the courts may take the decision as to who looks after them. By appointing Legal Guardians in your Will you can ensure that this does not happen.
It makes financial sense
- It’s a quick and simple process to make a Will and it’s relatively inexpensive too!
- Making a tax efficient Will can save on the amount of Inheritance Tax your family may have to pay after you die
- In the event of dying intestate, your family will have to apply to the courts to administer your estate – a far more lengthy and costly process than if you had written a Will.
It gives you the opportunity to help those less fortunate
- By leaving a gift in your Will to a charitable cause – it helps not only the beneficiaries, but can help you too – for sadaqa jariya (ongoing charity) is an action that continues to be rewarded after death.
After Making Your Sharia Will
Review your Will on a regular basis, since changing circumstances – especially your marital situation (marriage, divorce or re-marriage) may affect its validity.
If there are significant changes of circumstance, it may become necessary to make a new Will, but for minor changes you may just require a Codicil – which makes an addition or alteration to your existing Will.
So if you’ve already made a Will, but would like, for example, to include a bequest to charity, the process if fairly straightforward – and can be drawn up by a solicitor.
Remember: Do not try to alter your Will by crossing out or adding words. If you do this, your Will may be rendered invalid in the eyes of the Law, so if you then die without having made a new Will, it will be as if you had never made a Will at all.
It is important to seek Legal Advice with regards to the drafting of a Will to ensure that they comply with both Sharia Law and the domestic Law of England and Wales. Failure to execute a compliant Will may, in the worst case, leave the Will invalid and as a result you dying intestate. This will be a costly and time consuming matter for your relatives to have to deal with at an already difficult time.
Contact us today by calling our Freephone number 0800 092 0529 to make an appointment at any one of our three branches, or at your home or workplace for your convenience, or for further information.