Writing A Will
A Will is something that many people in Singapore might not want to think about, especially when they’re young. In fact, a typical Singaporean may not consider making out a Will until he or she is almost in their fifties. However, a Will should be made out sooner than later.
While you may be inclined to put off thinking about your mortality, taking the time to prepare a well-written document that indicates how you would like your possessions and assets to be distributed after you passed on is key to avoiding strife among loved ones.
Your Will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you passed on (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). If you don’t leave a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on, and this might not be in line with your wishes.
Your estate is comprised of everything you own—A non-exhaustive list includes your car, home, other real estate, personal possessions, investments, etc.
Estate planning in Islam helps to ensure that the wealth or estate transferred is in accordance with the giver or deceased’s wishes and, more importantly in accordance with the Syariah law and with Singapore’s legal system.
Common Terms Pertaining To Inheritance
Muslim who passed away without writing a Will, their assets will be distributed to their heirs according to the Islamic inheritance law or what we call Faraidh.
Faraidh deals with the distribution of the estate of a deceased person among his/her heirs in accordance with Allah’s (God) decree in the Holy Quran and according to the hadith or tradition of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).
Wasiat (Wasiya) or Islamic Will writing is very similar to conventional Will writing. The main objectives of having a Wasiat is to select an administrator and decide if we wish to exercise the option of giving away 30% of one’s estate to non-beneficiaries.
This option is entirely optional. What is pertinent to note is that even if you do not like a relative and if he is your beneficiary as per the Islamic inheritance law, he is still entitled to his share of your estate.
The only way around it may be a deed of family arrangement where shares can be distributed in a manner other than that of faraidh but this requires consent of all the beneficiaries.
Hibah is another Islamic estate planning instrument. Hibah can be done during the lifetime of the donor with certain conditions address in the hibah. The transfer to donee can be revised upon death and reverts back to donor who is still alive.
What You Need To Know On Joint Tenancy
Under joint tenancy, the owners will have an equal share in the flat and upon the demise of any joint owner, his interest in the flat will automatically be passed on to the remaining co-owners. This is what is meant by the right of survivorship.
This is regardless of whether the deceased joint owner has left behind a Will and this applies to Muslims as well. Please refer to the following link from HDB website for more information on the different ways one may hold their shares in a flat.
The Court of Appeal (the Highest Court in Singapore) in a 2010 case overruled a prior fatwa given by MUIS (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura) which stated that upon the death of the joint owner, the remaining property (50%) shall be distributed according to faraidh.
As such, the right of survivorship will apply to Muslims in Singapore. It is only when shares are held in tenancies in common (each co-owner holds a separate and definite share in the flat) that the deceased’s share will be divided according to faraidh.
With the increasing number of investment-savvy muslims, estate planning becomes more complex and will require better planning to minimise time for distribution, peace of mind and protection of wealth from squandering heirs.
There is also an increasing need for awareness among muslim converts on how to distribute the wealth among muslim and non-muslim relatives. This is also an area that is not easily understood.
Do feel free to seek comprehensive advice for your estate planning needs today.