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Sharia Wills Solicitors
“It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without writing a Will about it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Under the Sharia, a Muslim with wealth is duty-bound to write a will, not letting three days pass without doing so. In order to fulfil this religious obligation, Muslims need to ensure they have executed a Sharia-compliant will, not simply a secular will.
This can be a complex process when dealing with legal advisers who are not familiar with Sharia law, which is why the expertise offered by JMW Solicitors is so valuable. Our highly experienced wills, trusts and estate planning team can help you with all matters relating to your Sharia will, providing the assistance you need to make sure everything is completed correctly.
To make a will in accordance with Sharia law, or to discuss any related matters with our team, simply give us a call on 0345 872 6666 today.
How JMW Can Help
Our legal team is highly experienced in all aspects of Sharia will-writing, and in Tasnim Khalid we have a specialist Sharia-compliant tax adviser on our team. The laws surrounding Inheritance Tax (IHT) and preserving the family estate for future generations can be complex, but our experts can help you make the right decisions with practical, knowledgeable advice.
Because we specialise in Sharia wills, we also have a large number of clients who are expats living in the Middle East, and can help those based overseas to put wills in place that ensure both the wishes of the deceased and their religious beliefs are honoured.
JMW Solicitors is often asked to give seminars on wills, trusts and estate planning, IHT and other related topics. Several of our lawyers are also members of the highly-respected Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which further underlines our experience in this field.
Both JMW and Tasnim Khalid have been regularly recognised for their commitment to high standards in the Chambers and Legal 500 guides. The latest Legal 500 edition cited a comment from a private client that Tasnim’s “technical expertise is second to none, and her personable nature is endearing”.
What is a Sharia will?
Under a Sharia will, at least two-thirds of a deceased Muslim person's estate must be distributed among surviving relatives in fixed shares, as prescribed by the Quran. Up to one-third can be bequeathed to anyone who is not entitled to a fixed share, such as a charity.
Additionally, the individual may wish to leave a Sadaqah Jariya, a type of perpetual charitable giving in the cause of Allah, a virtuous act designed to provide rewards in the afterlife.
Under an Islamic will, Muslims can also:
- appoint executors - including friends, relatives or lawyers - to handle their estate after they have died
- appoint guardians of any minors
- make provisions for minors, i.e. to invest their inheritance for their maintenance, education or benefit. This can be invested in Sharia-compliant trusts
- specify recipients for their ‘up to one-third’ bequests
- specify any charities they may wish to support
- lay out funeral wishes, which may include specifying that their bodies are buried and not be subjected to a post-mortem, in accordance with Sharia
When writing a Sharia will, the following important factors should be considered:
- You are able to specifically appoint Muslim executors to deal with your affairs
- You can ring-fence and protect your estate for vulnerable family members - for example, children going through a divorce or bankruptcy - and still make your will Sharia-compliant
- A strict Sharia-compliant will is not necessarily IHT efficient, meaning they could result in a 40% tax charge upon death. It is therefore vital to get legal advice on ways to draft Sharia-compliant wills that also reduce IHT obligations
- If you are domiciled in India or Pakistan, you may be able to take advantage of the double taxation treaty and be liable for less IHT
- If you own a business, extra IHT savings could be obtained if your business qualifies for Business Property Relief
How do Sharia wills work under English law?
Ideally, Sharia-compliant will adhere to the principles of Islam, but will also be tax-efficient and fully compliant with the laws of England and Wales.
Sharia wills are often homemade or drafted by people who are not qualified legal professionals, which means they may fail to consider all the legal issues surrounding each particular circumstance. In the worst-case scenario, these wills may not have any effect under English law, which can render your estate difficult to administer, and create tax or legal complications and expense.
Planning ahead is key to preserving your assets and mitigating tax, which is why our team will work to guide you through the tax legislation and work out the best way forward.
What happens if I don't have a Sharia will?
If you die without a Sharia will in place, then your assets and estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. No provisions will be offered for Muslim beliefs, and going through the process will also increase the time and cost of dealing with an estate.
Since Sharia wills are also used to set out specific requests for burial and ensure that any ceremony is run in accordance with Islamic rituals, failure to provide a valid will may result in funeral rites being conducted that do not conform to the deceased’s wishes.
Why are Sharia wills important for expats in the Middle East?
In Middle Eastern countries with Sharia law, assets may be passed on to family members, with each male receiving double what each female member gets. If a person does not have a will, the rules of intestacy for the country where they are domiciled will apply.
For Muslims based in these countries, having a Sharia will in place is essential to ensure the wishes of the family and their religious beliefs are honoured. Non-Muslims who live in a country that implements the Sharia, and are UK domiciled, will also require a UK will.
Talk to Us
For more information on how to write a Sharia-compliant will, call JMW Solicitors on 0345 872 6666. You can also complete our online enquiry form, and we will give you a call back at a time that is convenient for you.