The circumstance of dying without a will is called intestacy. If someone dies intestate, the law will determine who will inherit – not Islamic law.
The court will administer your estate or a relative can apply to act as your administrator (executor)- this can take time and they will have to allocate according to legal allocations. This can lead to significant legal fees and also strain family relations if there is a dispute about who gets what.
Here are 7 other practical reasons for making a will:
- In order to avoid extra legal costs and creating irreconcilable family rifts, wills should be made as legally clear and undisputable as possible. Creating an Islamic will reduces the risk of a relative objecting to the contents of the will because, rather than inheritance decisions being personal, they are guided by Islamic guidelines. Mainstream will-writer Farewill estimates that £9,700 is the average cost of dying without a will.
- Confirm who you want to be the guardian for dependent children if you and your spouse were both to pass away. You wouldn’t want the courts to grant this right to someone you do not approve of.
- Make provision for dependents who wouldn’t inherit automatically under English law. This is a religious duty as your spouse will not inherit if your marriage isn’t legally registered and dependents who are not blood relations (such as step-children or foster children) will not automatically inherit anything without a will.
- Minimise the inheritance tax bill. Having worked hard for your wealth and paid taxes on it already, there is nothing wrong with organising your will to minimise the amount the State will take. The more that you can leave behind, the more good that it can achieve.
- Decide who you think will best handle your estate and appoint them as your executors. This way, you can be sure that trustworthy and capable people are going to be distributing to your inheritors. This role is not for everyone as it can be stressful, especially given the circumstances.
- Ensuring some charity is given from your wealth.
- Organise your assets and debts. This is an important exercise as you will have to take stock of your affairs and may realise there is room for improvement currently in how you manage your wealth. It’s important that you set out the full picture of your wealth so that assets that no-one but you knows about don’t go unclaimed and debts do not go unsettled.
Along with the peace of mind of knowing that things will be carried out according to Islam and your wishes, you will also have practically prepared for your death. There is always a risk that we lose ourselves in the day to day rigmarole of living- maintaining a will helps us remember our ultimate destination.
This article is part of our Islamic Wills FAQ series.