Islamic Will Solicitors (Wasiyyah)
At Cartwright King, we understand that executing a Sharia law-compliant Islamic will can be a difficult process. This is especially when many legal advisors lack the necessary knowledge. We are here to simplify the process for you. Our team of highly experienced Islamic will solicitors specialise in wills, trusts, and estate planning. They possess the expertise to guide you through all aspects of a Sharia will, ensuring its compliance with Sharia law while still reflecting your personal wishes.
What is Wasiyyah in Islam?
In Islam, Wasiyyah or Wasiya refers to the declaration made by an individual makes in their lifetime regarding their property and the arrangements to be carried out after their death according to Islamic law. This concept is similar to a “will” under British law.
What is a Sharia Will / Islamic Will?
An Islamic will is a legally binding document that instructs who a person will be leaving their assets (property, possessions, money) to upon their return to Allah (SWT).
An Islamic will considers two groups of people.
- Ascendants: This includes your spouse (husband/wife) and parents.
- Descendants: This includes your children, grandchildren, and siblings (including full and half siblings).
In addition, a will can include bequests for charitable purposes.
Inheritance, Sharia Law, and Islamic Will Rules
There are four duties that must be carried out when a Muslim passes away. These are:
- Payment of funeral costs
- Payment of his or her debts
- Execution of his or her will
- Distribution of his or her assets in line with Shariah law
The Qur’an outlines guidelines the designated portion of an estate that should be inherited by your relatives. This is the key difference between a Standard will and an Islamic will. Shariah law encompasses several crucial rules pertaining to inheritance, which can be summarised as follows:
- Husband: Inherits ½ if the deceased has no children or ¼ if the deceased has children.
- Wife: Inherits ¼ if the deceased has no children or 1/8 if the deceased has children.
- Daughters: Inherits ½ if the deceased only has one daughter and no sons. Inherits 2/3 if the deceased has multiple daughters and no sons (shared equally between all daughters).
- Son and daughter: Inherit a shared portion with a 2:1 ratio.
- Father: Inherits 1/6 if the deceased has children.
- Mother: Inherits 1/3 if the deceased has no children or siblings, or 1/6 if the deceased has children or siblings.
You can find many Islamic Will Calculators online.
Updating the Shares of an Islamic Will
If you desire for the division of assets to differ from the guidelines, you must get written consent from the family who’s division will be changed, provided this consent is given freely. You then draft the will with the updated shares.
Again, it’s important to ensure any update to shares is document correctly from domestic law and Islamic law perspective. Therefore, make sure to speak to an expert Islamic will solicitor.
Creating an Islamic Will in England and Wales With an Islamic Will Solicitor
Creating an Islamic will in England and Wales can be broken down into several steps:
- Seek professional advice: When creating an Islamic will in England and Wales, it’s important to get advice from an expert Islamic wills solicitor. This way you can ensure the will complies with both UK law and Sharia law.
- Choose and executor: You will want to choose an executor that is trustworthy and knowledgeable about Islamic law to carry out the wishes of your will.
- Identify beneficiaries: Determine the recipients of your estate in accordance with Islamic law. These recipients may encompass your spouse, children, parents, and additional relatives.
- Consider distribution of assets: Determine how you want to distribute your assets between your beneficiaries. Islamic law outlines how you should divide your assets between beneficiaries.
- Consider charitable donations: Islamic law encourages donating part of your estate to an organisation or charity.
- Address funeral arrangements: Consider addressing funeral arrangements. You may choose to include instructions for the type of burial and location of the burial site.
- Include instructions for debts and liabilities: Include any instructions for how to manage debts and liabilities in your Islamic will.
- Review and update your will: Regularlyreview and update your will. Especially in the event of a big life changing event such as buying a house or having children.
Criteria for Writing a Sharia Will / Islamic Will in England and Wales
In England and Wales, the intestacy rules diverge from Islamic law, making it crucial for Muslims to seek guidance from legal professionals. Seeking the help of an Islamic will solicitor, ensures that your assets are distributed among your family members in alignment with the guidelines prescribed in the Qur’an.
To create an Islamic will that is legal in the UK, you must meet the following conditions according to UK law:
- You must be 18-years old or over
- Your will must be in written form (oral declarations are not legally-binding)
- You must legally declare that this is your last will. This means that any other wills are now invalid
- You must be of sound mind
- You’ll need to sign and date the will in presence of two witnesses
- Neither of the witnesses can be your spouse or beneficiaries of the will
For personalised legal guidance, we recommend getting in touch with our wills and probate solicitors. For advice about Islamic Will guidelines, a scholar will be able to provide you with Sharia-compliant advice.
The Rules of Bequest
Islamic law states that you should divide your estate in-line with pre-determined guidelines. However, you can also make changes to those who inherit from your will. However, it is important to also consider bequests when planning your will.
Bequest relates to the flexibility of distributing up to one-third of your estate in any way you desire. This does not consider the previously mentioned Islamic rules.
You can apply the Islamic will rules regarding who receives what proportion of your inheritance to all your estate if you wish. However, you have the option to only apply this rule to two-third of your estate. This allows you to alter the remaining third. You might wish to give this to charity or perhaps give more to a certain family member.
The rules of bequest allow you to distribute one-third of your assets however you like. This is as long as they follow these two rules:
- Any assets left must be specific. For example, a certain car, a certain piece of jewellery or specified amount of cash left to a charity.
- Anything you leave in bequest must be valued at no more than one-third of your estate.
Individuals following specific schools of thought might desire to allocate a portion of their estate as compensation for missed fasts and prayers in their lifetime. This practice, referred to as a kaffarah, can be accomplished through a bequest.
If you intend to pursue this option, it is essential to carefully draft the bequest and seek personalised guidance from a reputable will writing service, such as Cartwright King.
How Our Islamic Will Solicitors Can Help
Writing a will that is both compliant with UK law but also with Sharia law can be a daunting task. However, at Cartwright King, our Islamic will solicitors offer expert will writing services to make the process simple for you.
At Cartwright King, we offer comprehensive services that extend beyond will drafting. Our team provides expert advice on potential inheritance tax implications. The aim is to minimise the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate, thereby maximizing the financial benefits received by your family members.
Our specialist Islamic will solicitors can help you with any queries you may have, contact us today for your on 03458 941 622 or request a call back online and we will call you.
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Frequently asked questions.
How does inheritance work in an Islamic Will?
The Quran teaches that after all funeral expenses are taken care of, all debts and obligations and any bequests to charity are made, there are fixed inheritors.
You may set aside up to one-third of your estate to whomever you choose. This could be someone who does not inherit from the fixed amounts, or this could be a charitable organisation. If you decide to give some of your estates to a charitable organisation, this can satisfy your responsibility for Sadaqah Jariyah.
The remainder of your estate will be divided in accordance with Surah Al-Nisa verses 7-14. They are your closest family. However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, if a relative is a non-believer, they cannot inherit.
Additionally, the shares are dependent on who is alive at the time of your passing. The Quran states ‘men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind.’ (Quran 4:7). Therefore, a son is entitled to double the share of a daughter. This is because men are responsible for looking after the family’s financial security. With the inheritance, male heirs have a responsibility to care for the female heirs.
Can an Islamic Will cause adverse tax position?
Before starting your Islamic Will, it’s crucial to understand how UK inheritance laws work and what it means to your will.
Additionally, there are two bands prior to paying tax. First is the nil rate band. This is currently £325,000. Secondly, there is the residential nil rate band. This is presently £175,000. The residential nil rate band can be used on a primary residence and passed to direct descendants. Anything outside of these is taxed at 40%. In the event of your death, these bands can be passed to your spouse.
There are some exemptions and reliefs. Firstly, and possibly the most important is Spousal Exemption. This is regarding assets gifted between spouses during their lifetime and on death. These assets will be exempt from inheritance tax, assuming the receipt is UK domiciled.
It’s important to understand and consider these exemptions as they can often be missed, resulting in many Muslim couples paying more inheritance tax than non-Muslim couples. This is because assets are not always passed directly to your spouse and to the fixed inheritors. The reason this is often missed is that it is not reflected in Shariah distribution.
Not considering these exemptions can become particularly problematic regarding uneven estates. This is where one spouse owns most of the assets in their name only.
To ensure that the spousal exemption can be utilised, it is recommended to use a life interest trust. The ultimate beneficiaries are as per Surah Al-Nisa verses 7-14. However, the surviving spouse has a life interest over the assets until they pass away. Therefore, solving the tax issue.
Getting expert advice regarding your Islamic Will is incredibly important. If you get a standard Islamic Will, you may be causing an inheritance tax bill for your family.
Why should you get an Islamic Will?
Islam provides the rules for what happens to your assets in the event of your death. However, it’s essential to document your wishes in a will legally. Making a will is beneficial for many reasons such as:
- Saving inheritance tax fees
- Guardianship of your children
- Avoiding family disputes
- Detail your funeral and burial wishes.
At Cartwright King, our Islamic Wills solicitors can help you with what to write into your will, depending on your specific circumstances. We can assist you in a straightforward way, making writing your Islamic Will simple.
How does Sharia Will operate under British law?
Sharia wills are often written without the help and advice of a legal professional. This can risk being void in the event of your death as it’s written by someone not legally qualified to do so.
If your will is void, it can make distributing your estate difficult to administer. This could lead to unnecessary tax or legal expenses.
When writing any will, it’s important to get the help of a will writing solicitor.
Our team consists of skilled solicitors specializing in Islamic law who are ready to assist you in navigating tax regulations and both English and Sharia law requirements.
Doing so ensures that your desires are legally enforceable upon your passing, granting you peace of mind.
Is a Sharia will legally binding?
Yes, Sharia will is legally binding in England and Wales.
Can I change my will after writing it?
Are Islamic marriages accepted under English law?
It’s typical for Islamic marriages (nikah contracts) to not be recognised by the English courts. Whilst Islamic law (sharia) recognises the marriage, you will have to carry out an additional marriage at a registry office in the UK if you want to be given the legal status of a UK civil marriage.
Getting a UK civil marriage can be advantageous when it comes to Inheritance tax. This is because legal spouses inherit from each other without tax.
Islamic wills can help in these situations as you can get the will completed and get legally married afterwards without it nullifying your will.
Is a will still valid if personal circumstances change?
You cannot change your will after it’s been signed and witnessed. The only way you can change a will is by making an official alteration called a codicil.
You must sign a codicil and get it witnessed in the same way as witnessing a will.
It is recommended that you review your will every 5 years and after any big life event happens such as moving house, having children, death of a loved one etc.