If an individual dies without having made a will they could be leaving behind significant financial problems for the people they care about the most. Worryingly, new research suggests that more than half of adults don't have a will in the UK.
From an Islamic view point:
A Muslim with wealth is duty-bound to write a will, not letting three days pass without doing so. In order to fulfil this religious obligation, Muslims need to ensure they have executed a Shariah-compliant will, not simply a secular will.
Making a will is one of those things that many people put off. However, a will can be an important way to protect your family and loved ones. It can save on inheritance tax and head off family disputes about how your possessions should be divided.
- dependent children
- not married to your partner
- circumstances may change
- funeral wishes
- assets owned with another party or abroad
A will is a legally binding document which tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property – collectively called your 'estate' – after you die.
As well as naming your beneficiaries (the people who benefit from your will), a will appoints executors – the people who look after the financial process after your death (who 'execute' your will).
Importantly, if you don't leave a will, your estate is shared out in a standard way defined by law (the 'law of intestacy') – which might not be in line with what you would have wanted.
It's important your will is stored safely and you tell your executors where they'll be able to find it after your death.
You could store it with the Probate Service in England and Wales. There's a fee of £20 to do this, but withdrawing it is free. In Northern Ireland, wills can be deposited with the Probate Office for a fee of £33. You can find out more about the various options for storing your will in Scotland on the Citizens Advice Scotland website.
There are some basic legal requirements needed to make a will.
- must be made by a person who is 18 or over
- must be made voluntarily and without any undue pressure
- must be made by a person who is of sound mind
- must be in writing
- must be signed in the presence of two witnesses
- must then be signed by the witnesses in the presence of the person making the will
Executors are the people responsible for carrying out your wishes and sorting out your estate. You can appoint up to 4 executors, quite often people will choose family members, friends, solicitors or banks. It is important that you speak to the person before hand to ensure that they are happy to act as your executor.
While every effort's been made to ensure this guide's accuracy, it isn't legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. We can't assume responsibility or accept liability for damage or loss as a result of your reliance on it.