Make your 'will' now
It is the duty of every Muslim – man or woman – to make a Will. The importance of this duty cannot be over-emphasised. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) has said that it is not proper for a person to pass two nights without having his Will near his pillow; and that a person who makes a good Will dies the death of a martyr and one who does not, dies the death of a pagan.
A good Will for a Shia Muslim is one that disposes of his estate on death according to the principles of inheritance set out in the Holy Qur'an and the ahidith of the Prophet and our Holy Imams. These principles allow a person a free right of disposal over one-third of his estate (subject to certain conditions) but otherwise require him, as a general rule, to leave his property in specified proportions on death. This mode of disposal can create difficulties for a person making a Will in this country. It can give rise to adverse tax consequences and numerous difficulties in the administration and distribution of his estate.
A book on Wills and Administration has now been published that includes a detailed section on Shia Wills and Inheritance according to the legal rulings of His Eminence the Grand-Ayatollah al-Uzma As-Sayyid Ali Al-Husseini As-Sistani. The book suggests ways in which such adverse tax consequences and other difficulties may be avoided. It sets out how a person may make a Will that complies with his Islamic obligations, is tax-effective and easy to administer on his death.
The book was published in May 2008 by LexisNexis/Butterworths as part of its prestigious publication ‘the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents’. The publication is produced primarily to assist and guide lawyers and practitioners to draft legal documents. The section on Shia Wills is part of Volume 42(3) of that publication and has been written by a Shia author. The section on Shia Wills, has, accordingly, been written primarily to guide lawyers and practitioners to draft Shia Wills in accordance with the legal rulings of Ayatollah As-Sistani.
Any person who wishes to make a Will would be well-advised to consult a solicitor or other qualified professional person to do so. The purpose of the Shia section of the book is to assist the solicitor or professional person to draft a Will that is both tax-effective and not complicated by the application of the Islamic principles that, ordinarily, require the estate of a deceased person to be left in specified proportions. However, where that is not possible, the section also sets out how the solicitor or professional person may draft a Will that complies with the complicated principles of leaving an estate in specified proportions that applies under Shia Law.
Most professional lawyers in this country and many lawyers in foreign jurisdictions that are based on English Law subscribe - or have access - to the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents because of its standing as the leading precedents work on English Law. Any person - doing the taqleed of Ayatollah As-Sistani – wishing to make a Will under Shia Law might want to request his solicitor or other professional advisor to consider the commentary in the book before preparing one. Should the solicitor or advisor not be able to obtain easy access to the Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents, a copy of the book may be available on short-term loan from Sayyid Aliraza Naqvi Birmingham Ali Naqvi [firstname.lastname@example.org]