Islamic inheritance: Myth versus fact

Myth:  I live in America where there are no Islamic courts.  Islamic inheritance is too complicated to be enforced in the United States. Since I have to live by the law of the land, I can’t plan for an Islamic inheritance.

Fact: In the United States, you can plan your inheritance through a last will and testament or a trust to make sure your Islamic heirs inherit from you. While Islamic inheritance is complex, you can take advantage of publicly available software, charts, and guidelines to help you determine the share of inheritance that should go to your surviving heirs. However, stay away from do-it-yourself options, and be sure to use an attorney to make sure your documents are legally enforceable.

Myth:  Islamic Inheritance is too rigid. I have no flexibility in leaving money for those I feel need more help.

Fact: It’s true that Islamic inheritance defines shares for certain family members. However, it also allows for up to one third of one’s estate to be given to others, including non-heir family members, friends, and charitable organizations. Other types of planning, such as a family endowment, can allow one to set aside resources to continue care for certain beneficiaries even after death.

Myth:  I’m leaving all my money to my spouse so s/he can take care of the family. I know s/he would never remarry. If I follow Islamic guidelines, it would be unfair to him/her.

Fact:  While a surviving spouse may do his or her best to take care of the family, by doing this you are depriving others from their rightful inheritance. In Islam, inheritance is a right, not a privilege. While a spouse has the right to inherit, so do living parents and children. In some cases, other relatives such as siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren may also have a right to inherit. Money that is left to a surviving spouse is not guaranteed to go to other heirs. Once you are gone, it is too late to make sure your wishes are carried out.

Myth:  It costs too much to do an estate plan.

Fact:  Not doing an estate plan may cost you much more. First, if you have no plan in place, state intestacy laws may decide how your property is divided. This may be vastly different than what your family members deserve as their right under Islamic Inheritance. Your entire life is spent imparting the importance of Islam to your family, but at death, you could be depriving them of their rightful Islamic inheritance. Further, if your estate is subject to probate costs and estate taxes, your heirs could end up footing the bill by taking less than they were entitled.

Disclaimer:  This information is not intended as legal or tax advice. Azzad Asset Management provides comprehensive financial and estate planning to clients. For more information about becoming a client, please contact us at 888.86.AZZAD or by email.

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