Personal Finance

The Best 3 Free UK Islamic Wills – and When They’re Right For You

There are a number of free Islamic will options available in the UK these days. They are a great option – particularly if your affairs are simple. In fact my first will was a free will (more on which one I used later).

But free Islamic wills are only suitable for certain people and for others they will result in a will that is not what they intended – or worse – not legally binding.

In this article we explore:

  1. the various free Islamic wills available on the internet right now plus some brief thoughts on each;
  2. When a free Islamic will is right for you;
  3. When a free Islamic will is not right for you and
  4. What are the alternatives to a free Islamic will.

The Best Free Islamic Will Options Available Online

Each of the below providers have done a great service for the Muslim community and we should be thankful to them. But as each of them say themselves in their guidance, don’t just use their template because its free – make sure it suits your circumstances. Otherwise it’s a case of penny-wise now but pound-foolish later on.

1st Ethical Free Islamic Will

The 1st Ethical free will was really the first proper Islamic will template available in the UK. It is the free will I used for my first will.

The guys behind it are 1st Ethical Charitable Trust, which is the charity arm of a tax advisory firm called OneE. We also know the will was drafted in collaborations with Islamic scholars and solicitors.

The underlying engine behind this will is a discretionary trust will where your trustees basically decide in their sole discretion what happens to your assets on death, which should be in line with the sharia – but that interpretation is also left up to them.

Pros

  1. It has a great layout and is clear
  2. It has a solid introduction which talks you through some of the key Islamic and English law issues at play here
  3. If you follow it properly you should end up with a binding English law will

Freeislamicwill.com Template

This is an online solution where you fill in an online form and it spits out a completed will at the end.

From our research, it looks like the people behind it are qualified medical doctors (and the website has some great free guidance for medical professionals) and the will itself has been reviewed from an Islamic perspective. We would presume that there has been legal review of the will as well, but couldn’t confirm that.

Pros

  1. The will is online and you get a completed will out at the end of it immediately. Saves you having to fill in things by hand and then messing up and having to reprint pages etc.
  2. If you follow it properly you should end up with a binding English law will.
  3. It provides a guide on Islamic inheritance for executors.

Cons

In addition to the standard caveats applicable to all free wills, Freeislamicwills.com has a few specific things to watch out for:

  1. The online interface is pretty clunky and unintuitive – but does work.
  2. The Free Islamic Wills version comes with an inheritance schedule to help your executor work out the Islamic inheritance. However it is extremely dense and counterintuitive and includes pages and pages of distribution tables. I wouldn’t’ be comfortable asking the average executor to deal with that on their own.
  3. The will is drafted without a discretionary trust concept. This means that the executors must distribute everything upon death. As such, this reduces the potential for tax-planning. This is particularly problematic for people who have estates over £325,000 as they could have availed of tax planning which saved them £10,000s but cannot with this type of will.

HajjwithAE Islamic Will Template

This is a very recent addition to the free Islamic will template world and has been pulled together by Sh. Abu Eesa Niamatullah, a well-respected UK-based Islamic scholar.

Sh. Abu Eesa was involved with 1st Ethical in its early days and is an Islamic finance expert and as such has the Islamic law background to make this will Islamic.

The will largely follows the 1st Ethical template. The underlying engine behind this will is a discretionary trust will where your trustees basically decide in their sole discretion what happens to your assets on death, which should be in line with the sharia – but that interpretation is also left up to them.

Pros

  1. Nice easy-to-use template that is accompanied with a guide on each section as well as a video.
  2. There are explainer texts in red for each bit where you have to fill out something to reduce human error.
  3. If you follow it properly you should end up with a binding English law will

When a Free Islamic Will is right for you

A free Islamic will is usually right for you if:

  1. You have assets well below £325,000.
  2. You’re typically unmarried and do not have jointly-owned assets.
  3. You typically don’t have a property.
  4. You are not going to be making complicated bequests from your one-third that you can bequest.
  5. Your wishes are straightforward.
  6. You trust your trustees. A free will leaves a lot to the trustees and their discretion, so as these free wills rightly point out, they are only useful for situations where things will be amicable after your passing and everyone can be trusted to adhere to Islamic law.
  7. Your trustees have some basic nous about them around tax planning and money-saving. The reason is because there may be situation where they need to create further trusts or order the distribution of the assets in a particular way in order to avoid (a) the liquidation of the family home; and (b) inheritance tax.

When a Free Islamic Will is not right for you

A free Islamic will is not right for you if:

  1. You want the peace of mind of a lawyer looking over your drafting (about 70% of the wills we see make drafting errors).
  2. You want the peace of mind of an Islamic legal expert looking over your drafting (about 50% of the wills we see make Islamic legal errors).
  3. You are married and have joint assets.
  4. You have a business.
  5. Any of your potential beneficiaries are on means-tested benefits (e.g. disability benefits).
  6. Your Islamic heirs are likely not going to deal with things in an amicable way and/or even accept the Islamic legal division.
  7. You have complex financial circumstances such as owning business assets or foreign assets.
  8. You have assets over £325,000.
  9. Your trustees probably aren’t that savvy when it comes to tax-planning and money-saving.

What are the alternatives to a free Islamic Will?

There are three alternatives:

  1. Not have a will and leave it to the laws of intestacy. This is not really a viable option for a Muslim as it isn’t going to be an Islamic division.
  2. Go for a high-street solicitor that does Islamic wills. Just type “Islamic wills solicitor” and you’ll get a bunch of options. Typically you are looking at anywhere from £1000 to a few thousand pound for a will. You should shop around and also ask them their prices for being a professional trustee. This is usually where solicitors make their profit so best to compare that figure too.
  3. Use IFG Wills. It is an online service and takes just 20 minutes and costs £98. You get back your legally-binding and solicitor-drafted and mufti-checked Islamic will within a week. We are the guys behind this. You can check out our background here. This will is not ideal for people with assets over £2m. For a detailed comparison between IFG Wills and a free will or a high-street solicitor will, visit our website and see the FAQs at the bottom of the page.
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