Wasiat: An Instrument for Estate Planning
One of the roles of planning and managing wealth distribution is to avoid assets from continuously remaining frozen once a person passes away. Therefore, managing and planning Islamic wealth distribution is a vital component of knowledge to ensure that the Muslim community is well-protected. There are various types of instruments that can be applied in managing and planning Islamic wealth distribution that follows Shariah principles. As per Al-Quran and Hadith, wealth and estate transfer can be done via Wasiat, Waqf, Hibah, and etc. However, this article will only focus on Wasiat and its benefits as an instrument to be used in estate planning and distribution.
According to the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), 90% of Muslims do not make a Wasiat because they are unaware of the importance of Wasiat and would hold off from dealing with the matter of inheritance. At times, some even give the reason of not having any assets to be distributed. This should not be the case as a Wasiat is not just about distributing assets. Rather, a Wasiat is also about paying off debt and delivering any last wishes to the family members with messages that are filled with spiritual thoughts.
There are Hadiths that encourage Muslims to make a Wasiat. In a Hadith narrated by Ibn Umar, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“It is the duty of a Muslim who has something to which is to be given as a bequest not to have it for two nights without having his Will written down regarding it.”
Hadith compiled by al-Bukhari and Muslim
Although having a Wasiat in place is a favourable act (sunat), the law (hukum) of having a Wasiat can also change under the following circumstances:
- Wajib (Mandatory) – Wasiat becomes wajib when a person has a responsibility that must be fulfilled, especially in the form of zakat and pilgrimage where the worry is, it will not be fulfilled if it is not mentioned anywhere or for anyone to perform on their behalf (i.e. haji badal). The same applies if a person holds responsibilities such as having property entrusted to them and debts that have not been settled. By having a Wasiat in place, this responsibility can be entrusted to another person to carry on the responsibility.
- Sunat (Favourable) – Wasiat becomes sunat if bequests are given to relatives (non-Faraid beneficiary) in need while they are not entitled to inheritance. The same becomes favourable if the asset is bequeathed to the poor with the intention of doing good with the purpose of virtue to Allah.
- Harus/Mubah (Neutral) – Wasiat becomes harus/mubah if bequests are given to the rich either by relatives or any other party with no particular purpose. If the bequest is made to do good and to foster relationship, then it would be favourable.
- Makruh (Disapproved) – Wasiat becomes makruh if the asset is bequeathed to the fasiq (person who often commits sin) because the concern is that the asset will be used to increase his/her tendency to commit sin.
- Haram (Forbidden) – Wasiat becomes haram when a person bequeath something that is prohibited under the law or bequeath something with the intention to harm the heirs.
Muslims, in general, should have a Wasiat in place as it gives, among others it:
- Gives peace of mind in one’s final days.
A person that makes a clear Wasiat and carefully considers what will happen to their wealth after their death can spend their remaining days with the knowledge that they have done everything in their power to ensure a smooth distribution of their wealth afterwards, and can leave the rest to Allah.
- Ensures security and well-being of surviving family members
Without a Wasiat, the security and well-being of remaining family members may suffer. People may believe that their possessions will automatically be passed on to their immediate spouse/children/family members with no complications after their death. Whilst this is the thought of the majority of people, this is, unfortunately not true as there is a legal procedure that needs to be adhered to in order to unfreeze the deceased’s assets.
If a deceased person does not have a Wasiat, this could mean that their wealth and assets may remain frozen until matters such as court order, administrators and other procedural matters are finalised. Therefore, the household members who may be immediately dependent upon the wealth of the deceased will not be able to withdraw any of the deceased’s money from the bank for any household maintenance. This could mean that some of the deceased’s dependants are deprived of essential financial security and possessions of particular sentimental value.
In addition to this, the deceased may want to leave some of their estate to members of their extended family who do not automatically inherit from the two-thirds. Unless they have made a Wasiat, there is no guarantee that this will happen.
It is narrated by Salman bin ‘Amir that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.”
- Enables missed obligations to be fulfilled
A Wasiat can ensure that any missed obligations by the deceased can be entrusted to the family members in fulfilling the missed obligation. The missed obligations here can be religious in nature (i.e haji badal) or non-religious in nature (i.e. unpaid loans). It is a belief among Muslims that should the remaining religious obligations of the deceased remain unfulfilled, this will cause distress to the deceased in the Hereafter.
In another hadith, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
"The soul of a believer hangs on his debt until he is repaid."
Hadith compiled by Tirmidzi
- Avoids jealousy and resentment amongst surviving family members
A clear Wasiat can help to avoid this sad situation. One of the most distressing sights that we sometimes see after a person’s death is the squabbling over the deceased’s wealth and possessions. It can often lead to the break-up of families, resentment, and cutting off family ties.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“He who believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him maintain good relations with kins.”
Hadith compiled by Al Bukhari and Muslim
- Enables acts of charity (sadaqah) for rewards after death
Those good deeds we did that continue to help and benefit people will still earn us rewards after our death. A person may feel that they would like to facilitate more such deeds after they pass away. This can be done by way of having a Wasiat in place and specifying that such deeds must be put into practice after their death with the objective of benefiting them in the Hereafter.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity.”
Hadith compiled by Tirmidzi
The act of charity is also a good deed that never ends. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (perpetual charity); knowledge which is beneficial, or a pious son who prays for him (for the deceased).”
Hadith compiled by Muslim
- Enables the wishes of the deceased to be honoured
Without a Wasiat, it is possible that the wishes of the deceased would remain unfulfilled. In Islam, having a Wasiat gives a person control over one-third of their estate. The deceased may wish to use this one-third to contribute to good causes, charities, or organisations that they want to support, or to friends and family. This also applies to a person without any family members left so that whatever estate they leave behind can be bequeathed (up to one-third) to whomever they wish.
It is recommended that Muslims put a greater emphasis on managing and planning their wealth distribution well during their lifetime. This is to avoid any severe consequences occurring after their demise. Protect your family’s welfare by having a Wasiat with PB Trustees Services Berhad today!
This article is prepared solely for educational and awareness purposes and should not be construed as an offer or a solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe to products offered by Public Mutual. No representation or warranty is made by Public Mutual, nor is there acceptance of any responsibility or liability as to the accuracy, completeness or correctness of the information contained herein.