A Wasiat is a declaration of a person made in writing during his life time with respect to the distribution of his estate upon death. The assets of Muslims who die without Wasiats shall be divided rigidly amongst their heirs in accordance with the Faraid, i.e. the Islamic Law of Inheritance. A Muslim can write a wasiat to bequest of up to 1/3 of his assets to non-Faraid heirs and the residue of the estate will be distributed to the Faraid heirs.
Extract from Sahih Al-Bukhari, Cap 55, Hadith I. Ibn Umar:
“It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to Wasiat to stay for 2 nights without having his Wasiat written and kept ready with him”.
Heirs are specifically identified in Islam. A spouse, parents and legitimate children (provided they are Muslims) are never excluded from a deceased’s inheritance. Grandchildren, for example, are not automatically regarded as heirs and would benefit only under certain circumstances. Those not regarded as heirs in Islam include, for example, adopted children, illegitimate children and foster parents.
Benefits of writing a Wasiat
- A Muslim can bequeath up to 1/3 of his estate to non-Faraid heirs or for charitable purposes (after deducting all debts and liabilities);
- A Muslim is allowed to give his assets to specific beneficiaries in his wasiat but subject to the consent of the Faraid beneficiaries;
- To appoint an Executor of your choice;
- To appoint Penjaga (Guardian) of your minor children (below 18 years of age) or special child;
- To ensure that the distribution of your estate will be fast and efficient;
- To give special instruction, message of love and endearments to a specific person;
- The requirement to provide Administration Bond is not required;
- Peace of mind.
Is Wasiat the only way to distribute a Muslim’s asset to his loved ones? It depends on the situation and his wishes. There are other Islamic estate planning instruments such as Pri-hibah, Declaration of harta Sepencarian, Living Trust, Insurance Trust, etc.