A “last will” or testament is a legal document by which a person or testator expresses the disposition of his or her assets after death. Testator names one or more person, the executor, to manage the estate until its final distribution. Every adult American Muslim and particularly those with young kids need to ensure that they have a written “last will” signed by witnesses and available for execution in case of death.
If a Muslim in America or any other Non-Muslim country dies without a “last will” then state laws regarding inheritance will determine the asset distribution regardless of what the deceased may have wanted. A person who dies without a “last will” is called “intestate” and has no say in how his or her estate will be distributed. This also includes the kids of a deceased person. Without a “last will”, the state may take over the custody of the kids and may send them to the foster home or family as they deem appropriate.
In case kids are sent to a Non-Muslim foster family for adoption they will be raised as Non-Muslims with the faith cultivated by their foster parents. This is something that may be unacceptable to most of the Muslim parents as they are bounded by their religion to take care of their offspring and to ensure that the kids are raised as good Muslims and human beings. Having a “last will” ensures that you can nominate someone who you trust as a Muslim guardian for your children and set funds that will allow supporting their needs as they grow up. Muslim guardian will ensure your kids are raised as practicing Muslims.
“Last Will” also allows you to choose a trustworthy executor of your estate who will ensure that all your bequests are carried out properly however without it, the court would appoint someone who they deem appropriate to administer your estate.
Having a “last will” for Muslims in a Non-Muslim country allows them to specify if they want to be buried according to Islamic rituals and guidelines and if they would like to pay off all their debts first before distribution of their estate. This may be an important desire for a Muslim who believes that all debt should be paid off before one passes away. In Islam, taking debt is not considered desirable and all Muslims are instructed as per the Islamic code to live a life within means and not on the borrowed money, so when one passes away, it is recommended to have no debt or there are enough savings to pay off his or her debt.
There are Islamic Laws of Inheritance clearly laid out in the Holy Quran and one can designate the wealth distribution according to the Islamic laws. There are various websites available that allow creating the “last will” using Islamic guidelines. One of the popular ones is MyWassiyah. The application has step by step interview process that will allow you to create an “Islamic Will” as per your situation and its compliant with US laws.
Another popular website is Islamic Inheritance Calculator that gives inheritors share percentage as per your situation. All you have to do is to fill out your kids, parents and sibling information and it will determine what percentage of a share should be assigned to each of your inheritors.
Many employers offer free legal service to their employees to create “last will” without any legal fees so it would be a good idea to check with your HR or employer to find out the lawyers and attorney on your employer’s panel who can help in creating your “last will”.
With so many options available to easily create an “Islamic will”, there is no reason why one would leave this world without having created the most important document that allows their loved ones to be taken care of in the way you wanted it to be.