I am an American Muslim. Does the Sharī‘a require me to have a will?

 

Many Muslim scholars living in the United States suggest that American Muslims are obligated to have an Islamic will, because without one, the estate will be divided according to non-Islamic laws. If you leave a surviving spouse and you did not leave a will, your parents, for example, would not inherit, under many state intestacy laws.

According to Sharī‘a, a will that leaves a bequest is either obligatory, recommended, disliked, or prohibited, depending on the circumstances.

The obligatory bequest is one you must make. An example of this is when you owe someone a debt, but no one knows about this debt except you and the creditor. In this case, you must include the debt in your will. Another example is if you are wealthy and have poor relatives that are not eligible Sharī‘a heirs; you are obligated to leave them something.

The recommended bequest is one you should strongly consider. For example, if your Islamic heirs and relatives are wealthy and not in need, leaving part of your estate for charity is recommended.

The disliked bequest is not recommended. For example, if your estate is not large, your Islamic heirs and relatives are poor, and you leave part of your small estate to non-Islamic heirs, the scholars concluded such a bequest is disliked, because it will create hardship for your family.

The prohibited bequest is not allowed under Sharī‘a. For example, it is prohibited to leave more than 1/3 of your estate to non-Islamic heirs or to give an Islamic heir more than his or her share as stated in the Qur’an. This is based on the famous Hadith of the Prophet that says “there shall be no bequest to an Islamic heir.

Unlike the Sunni opinion, the Ja‘fari (Shia) school permits a bequest to an Islamic heir as long as it does not exceed 1/3 of the estate.

To summarize, if you want your estate to be distributed according to the Sharī‘a, you must have an Islamic will. Use our ISLAMIC WILL software to prepare your own customized Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.

How is an Islamic will different from a secular will?

An Islamic will covers everything that a secular will covers, including:

 Appointing an executor to distribute your estate and manage your affairs after death;

 Appointing a guardian to care for your children and manage their inheritance until adulthood;

 Leaving money and/or property from your estate to other relatives or to charitable organizations;

 Specifying any debts to be paid at your death. However, unlike a secular will, an Islamic will also includes Sharī‘a-complaint solutions to managing your estate after death, including:

 Dividing your assets according to Sharī‘a inheritance rules;

 Telling the world that you have selected your burial rites according to Islam;

 Outlining your autopsy wishes that are permissible under the Sharī‘a;

 Specifying moral and religious obligations to be paid at your death; and

 Providing permissible, recommended, and obligatory bequests up to one-third of the estate in aggregate.

If you want your estate to be divided according to Sharī‘a inheritance rules, use our ISLAMIC WILL software to prepare your own customized Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.

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