Klenk Law

Drafting a Sharia-Compliant Islamic Will and Estate Plan in New York

Posted on Wed Nov 25, 2015, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York

Most Recently Updated August 1, 2018.

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Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York

Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York

At Klenk Law, we are often asked to incorporate our clients’ religious principles into their estate plans. Recently, we have noticed a significant increase of inquiries regarding Sharia Compliant Wills, which is an excellent topic for discussion.

Source of Principles

The four sources for the principles that guide Sharia Compliant Wills are:

  • the Qur’an,
  • Sunnah,
  • Ijma, and
  • the Qiyas.

The rules laid out in these sources are complex and context specific. Inheritance plays an important role in the Islamic tradition. The Prophet Muhammad said, “it is the duty of every Muslim who has something which is to be given as a bequest not to have it for two nights without having his will written down regarding it.”

So, what are the basic rules, and how are they applied?

Basics of a Compliant Will

Sharia Compliant Wills follow a strict formula based on the number and gender of the relatives and descendants left behind. However, before property is to be left to heirs, certain other steps must be taken.

First, all debts and expenses of the estate must be settled before any distribution of estate assets happens. The first debt that must be paid is the cost of the funeral, followed by any debts to individuals and organizations. This includes any unpaid portion of a deceased male’s marriage gift to his wife, known as a mahr. Only after this has occurred can the estate be divided and distributed among heirs.

Wasiyya Bequest

The Wasiyya Bequest is an opportunity for every Muslim to bequeath assets to those who would not otherwise inherit under the Sharia Inheritance. This portion of the estate is limited to one-third of a person’s property and never any larger amount. 

Sharia Inheritance

The final portion of the estate plan is the Sharia Inheritance. This is the context-specific, thorny issue that requires a full understanding of the deceased’s family tree at the time of death. The ultimate disposition is dependent on the deceased’s madhhab. The most typical situations include:

  • Wife Survives with Children: 1/8th to Wife; Remainder to Children, with sons receiving twice as much as daughters
  • Husband Survives with Children: 1/4 to Husband; Remainder to Children, with sons receiving twice as much as daughters
  • No Spouse Survives, Only Children: Remainder to Children, with sons receiving twice as much as daughters

As you can see, the amount of inheritance one receives depends both on the gender and the living members of the deceased’s family. If a man died with a spouse and son, the son receives substantially more. 

More Planning Questions?

Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York is only a piece of the Estate Planning process. By all means, if you want to learn more, please read my more detailed article, Estate Planning Everything You Need to Know.

In Conclusion: Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York

I hope that this article was helpful in explaining Drafting a Sharia Compliant Will in New York. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website so you can learn more. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!

Let our Estate Planning lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced estate planning lawyers.  By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!

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