With Ramadan and Eid al Fitr recently past, the Muslim communities’ attention now turns to Hajj. Before undertaking the Pilgrimage, anxious pilgrims book their trips through specialized companies, to make their travel easier, and take classes, to ensure that they perform all the rituals correctly. Many however, forget to take the steps necessary to plan their estate and ensure their legacy.
Having an estate plan in place is mandatory on all Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (phub) is reported as having said,”It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.” In saying this, the Prophet was discussing the Wasiyya, the 1/3 of a Muslim’s estate which is distributable according to the wishes of the testator (one writing a will). The remaining 2/3 of the deceased’s estate would be distributed according to the Mawarith, the Islamic schedule of distribution derived from the Qur’an.
But in America, it is necessary for a Muslim who wants to enact an Islamic estate plan to ensure the entirety of one’s estate. This is because if you do not have a properly executed will or trust, your property will be distributed intestate, according to the laws of the state in which you live. Thankfully, all states permit testators to specify what they want, overriding the default laws of the state.
For those going on Hajj, or undertaking any difficult journey, the sometimes distant need to put a plan in place becomes immediate. Though much safer than in the past, the Pilgrimage still results in serious injury, or worse, to dozens of pilgrims. Though Allah will care for those who suffer in performing this mandatory obligation, it is up to each pilgrim to ensure that their family and community are cared for.
To fulfill the obligation of ensuring your legacy, professional help is often needed. Everyone should have a will, to ensure that they have a say in what happens to their property and also guarantee that correct burial procedures are followed. But wills need to be executed correctly, according to the laws of the state where you live. No website or booklet can guarantee that you are enacting you will or estate plan correctly.
Those with property may also need different types of trust, to avoid probate (the court supervised distribution of an estate which may take months and cost thousands of dollars) or the estate tax (which is up to 50% over the threshold amount). These laws are confusing, and the beginning the process can be intimidating. But these issues are important for everyone to face, especially those planning on Hajj.
This article is for information purposes only, and should not be construed as legal advice. For advice specific to your situation, please contact an estate planning professional qualified in the state where you live.