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Muslims’ Inheritance Law In Singapore

If you are a Muslim domiciled in Singapore, then it is mandatory that your estate will be distributed after death according to the rules of Islamic law. In this article, we’ll try to provide you with a general overview of how Muslims’ estate is distributed after death in Singapore.
Alvin T'ngThu Aug 05 2021

The branch of the Islamic law that regulates inheritance is called “faraidh”. It’s provided for under The Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3), and administered by the syariah court.

What is faraidh?

Faraidh is a branch in Islamic or shari’ah law dealing with inheritance and how Muslims’ estate is distributed after death. The principles of faraidh are found in the Holy Quran, the traditions and sayings of the prophet (Hadith) and the majority opinion of Islamic scholars.

Generally, and regardless of being Muslim or not, your assets include real estate, vehicles, shares, bank accounts, jewellery, insurance, investment, etc. Please note, this does not include CPF moneys, life insurance payouts with nominations or real estate owned under joint tenancy.

Can you ignore faraidh ?

The answer is no. The rules of faraidh exist to ensure the fair distribution of a deceased Muslim’s estate. That’s why, according to The Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3)[1], all Muslims domiciled in Singapore are required to follow the rules of Islamic law in all matters related to inheritance.

Which means that if a person renounced Islam while he is still alive, then his assets will not be distributed according to the rules of Islamic law. Similarly, if one of the heirs of a deceased Muslim renounced Islam, he won’t inherit the deceased Muslim.

Can you distribute all your assets according to your will?

What if a person from the Muslim faith wants to distribute all his assets and properties according to his will?

The answer is that all Muslims domiciled in Singapore cannot distribute their estate according to a will except in accordance with the rules of Islamic law and the school of Muslim law professed by the deceased[2]. These rules explicitly state that you can distribute only one third (⅓) of your estate according to your will.

Keep in mind, if you distributed more than one third of your estate according to your will, the excess amount will be considered invalid, unless all the heirs give their consent on that distribution.

Who can inherit from the deceased Muslim?

Generally, there are two types of heirs:

First, Quranic heirs (Ashab al froud). These twelve heirs have fixed shares mentioned in the Quran.

  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Mother
  • Father
  • Grandfather
  • Grandmother
  • Daughter
  • Son’s Daughter
  • Full Sister
  • A Sister from the same father (Consanguine)
  • A Sister from the same mother (Uterine)
  • A brother from the same mother (Uterine)

Second, residual beneficiaries(Asabah). There are three types of residual beneficiaries, and they receive the residue of the deceased estate after giving the Quranic heirs their shares. We are not going to get into detail of who can be considered as a residual beneficiary.

Please note that, only a few of the above mentioned heirs or beneficiaries will inherit the deceased. More importantly, the process of distributing the deceased’s estate and giving each beneficiary his percentage can be quite complex, and this is only a general overview of who may inherit a deceased Muslim.

Why should you plan your estate ?

There is a misconception that all Muslims domiciled in Singapore cannot or don’t have to plan their estate because the rules of faraidh will automatically apply to them. However, Muslims are allowed to draft a valid will and distribute up to one third (⅓) of their estate according to their will. This may be important in the following scenarios:

If you have a non-Muslim spouse or relative.

The general rule is that non-Muslims cannot inherit Muslims. However, Muslims are allowed to leave a will and make a non-Muslim one of the beneficiaries in that will. This is extremly important if you have a non-Muslim spouse or relative that you love and care about, and you want them to be financially secure when you pass away.

If you have an adopted child.

This is also one of the most important situations, because, normally, an adopted child is not one of the deceased heirs in Islamic inheritance law. However, you’re allowed to draft a will and give your adopted child up to one third (⅓) of your estate in order to keep him safe and financially secure.

If your son, spouse or relative is a revert Muslim.

As we have mentioned, if a person renounces Islam, then he cannot inherit a Muslim. So, if you want your revert relative, spouse, son or daughter to get a percentage of your estate, you have to plan your estate by drafting a valid will.

Appoint an executor and a guardian for your children.

First, planning your estate allows you to choose your desired executor; an executor will manage, administer and distribute your estate after you die. Accordingly, you need to appoint someone who is trustworthy, knows your wishes and respects them.

Second, drafting a will and planning your estate allows you to make sure that your child/children will receive the appropriate care and protection when you pass away. This is done by appointing a testamentary guardian in your will. Upon your death, this testamentary guardian will become the legal guardian of your child/children and will be responsible for their welfare and care.

Donations and Wakaf

Finally, planning your estate is a must if you want to sit aside donations or wakaf [3] for charitable purposes.

How can you plan your estate?

Estate planning usually involves drafting a valid will, and, also, drafting a lasting power of attorney [4]. This process can be easily done without spending a fortune on estate planners or lawyers. You can easily plan your estate by using WillCraft.

WillCraft is a user-friendly and affordable method that helps you draft your will in 30 minutes. At WillCraft, we guide you through the whole process. Our platform allows you to appoint your desired executor, appoint a guardian for your child/children, and you can even choose one of our legal service providers and have a lawyer review and witness your will.

While hiring an estate planner can cost you upwards of $500, at WillCraft you can draft your will right now starting from $49 only. Drafting your will with WillCraft is probably the most convenient, affordable and easy to use method to plan your estate.

( For more information on whether you need an estate planner or not, please refer to our article: Estate Planners And Do I Need One?)

Conclusion

As a Muslim, it’s necessary for you to plan your estate wisely, because, as we have mentioned, you can distribute only one third (⅓) of your estate. More importantly, you can do that without spending a fortune on estate planner. Quickly use WillCraft to draft your will in 30 minutes and, if you want, you can even get it reviewed and witnessed by a lawyer.

[1] The Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3) Section 111 (1). [2] There are four main schools of thought in Islam (Mazhab): maliki, shafii, hanabali and hanafi. [3] A wakaf is an ongoing charity in the form of permanent, irrevocable gift to Allah. This gift can be in the form of cash or property.
[4] A lasting power of attorney is a document that allows any one 21 years old or above “Donor” to appoint a person“ Donee” that he trusts to make decisions for him and act on his behalf if he lost his mental capacity at any time in the future. The donee would be authorized to make decisions concerning both the donor’s personal welfare and property and affairs.


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