Here are some essential definitions you need to know:
Beneficiary – An inheritor (a person receiving some benefit).
Bequest – A gift created in a will.
Capacity – A person’s legal and mental ability to make or alter a valid will. Also called ‘sound mind and memory’.
Codicil – A document that adds to or changes some part of a valid will.
Estate – All of one’s wealth (estate = assets – debts).
Executor – A person responsible for carrying out the wishes in a will (also known as a personal representative). Executors are either nominated in a will or, if there is no will, by the courts.
Guardian – A person who is legally responsible for the care and management of a minor or dependent person.
Intestacy – Dying without a will.
Mirror wills – Wills that couples get that are identical. Islamic wills cannot accommodate this arrangement as each person has their own Islamic inheritors based on their relations.
Mutual wills – Wills made by two or more people who agree that they will not change or destroy their wills without the other parties’ consent. As soon as one of the parties to that agreement dies, it becomes impossible for the other parties to alter their mutual wills.
Probate – The process of organising and winding up the estate of someone who has died in accordance with their will.
Sadaqah Jariyah – Means a continuous and ongoing charity. It is one of the most rewarding acts we can do as the benefits can be reaped in this lifetime and long after we have passed. It can be given on someone’s behalf after they pass but this must be from their own wealth.
Testator – The creator of a will.
Trustee – A person who is given responsibility to manage property in a trust. Trustees are under a legal obligation to manage the property in the best interest of the beneficiaries and for the purposes specified (in the will, if it is created in the will).
This article is part of our Islamic Wills FAQ series.