As a British Muslim should I have an English or Islamic will?

I often get asked to explain the differences between a person having an English Will or an Islamic Will. Below is a brief description of both.

English Will

Under British Law, a testator (the person making the Will) has full testamentary freedom over their entire estate so they can leave 100% of their estate to whomever they wish including family members, charities or anyone else.

If they die without making a Will then they die intestate and a strict order of intestacy rules govern who gets what. Cohabitants are not automatically entitled to a share in the estate under the intestacy rules.

Islamic Will

Under Islamic law, a testator does not have full testamentary freedom. According to the Quran, two-thirds of a person’s estate must be left to Muslim family members depending upon who survives and primary heirs can include spouses, children and parents. Shares are fixed according to the Quran and they cannot be amended.

The testator has full testamentary freedom regarding the remaining one-third share which can be left to other family members, charities and non-Muslims.

Every Muslim who owns anything should not let two nights pass without making an Islamic Will (compliant with English Law). It is therefore an obligation upon every Muslim and not a choice even if you only have a bank account with a few hundred pounds in.

It is estimated that only around 5% of Muslims living in Britain have an Islamic Will leaving the remaining 95% either planning to leave their estate in a non-Islamic way or subject to the intestacy rules if they do not have a Will.

Which one should I have?

After explaining the differences, I usually get asked by clients which Will they should have prepared. This is a personal decision and I cannot make this for you.

However, the only advice I can usually give is that if you are a Muslim, then you should have an Islamic Will in place in accordance with Islam as this not only dictates the division of your estate, but also key Islamic aspects of death such as burial, restrictions on investments and also other matters.

It is worth remembering that Islam is not just a religion but a complete way of life.

If you would like to discuss the making of either an English Will or an Islamic Will then please feel free to contact me.

Tanveer Moughal