Shariah law and Islamic Wills

“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)

Sharia law places the onus on Muslims to create a Will during their lifetime. It is important that this Will is a Sharia-compliant Will as oppose to simply a secular Will.

It is particularly important for British Muslims because, if they do not make a Will, their assets will not be distributed in accordance with Islamic law but will instead pass according to the UK’s rules of intestacy. Following the rules of intestacy could lead to family disputes over the deceased’s estate.

To help avoid such a dispute, a Will must be drafted in compliance with the formalities set out in UK law, as well as being drafted to respect religious considerations.

In a secular Will, the testator is free to distribute their inheritance in accordance with their wishes. However, Shariah law provides some guidance on how such a distribution should be formulated.

For example, a husband is entitled to receive 50% of the estate if the deceased has no surviving children or 25% if they do have children. For a wife, the percentages change to 25% and 12.5%.

There is also other specific guidance in relation to the relevant distribution of an estate to daughters and sons, or a mother and father.

It is important to state however that a Muslim is not bound by this guidance; they are entitled to amend the proportions of their estate that are to be distributed to their family members.

Islamic Wills also allow individuals to reserve one-third of their estate to be distributed how they wish, known as a bequest, or a wasiyya. This is compliant with Sharia law providing it is stated clearly in the Will and the assets are not worth more than one third of the entire estate.

Following the formalities of both UK and Shariah law can help to avoid potential will disputes arising in the future. It is important to take legal advice before preparing a will both to avoid any unintended tax consequences and also to try and prevent the will being contested.

If you would like advice about a will dispute or any type of contentious probate case, please call 01902 424927 and ask to speak to one of our specialist contentious probate lawyers. Alternatively, please e-mail us at contentiousprobate@georgegreen.co.uk providing a brief summary of the issues you wish to discuss with us, along with your contact details.

We have a dedicated practice team of contentious probate solicitors, covering all areas of the UK (wit offices near Birmingham and in Wolverhampton) who are experienced in dealing with all types of contentious probate matters, including challenging a will and estate disputes.

We also have a team of probate lawyers who can assist if you wish to review you current will or to make a will for the first time.

We offer an initial no obligation telephone consultation for contentious probate disputes and we can sometimes act for clients who want to contest a will or commence an inheritance dispute/probate dispute on a no win no fee basis.