Make a New Year’s Resolution to Complete Your Last Will and Testament
By Aneesah Nadir
Happy 1434/2013! What’s your New Year’s resolution? Is it to lose weight, eat healthy, spend less, read more Qur’an, pray on time? Is it to get organized? Is this the year to complete your Last Will and Testament?
Did you know that 70-80% of Americans of various faiths don’t have a Will? 9 out of 10 minorities don’t have a Will and most Muslims don’t have a Will. Why do we put off completing the most important love letter we will ever write for our family members?
The reality is that the thought of a Will makes us think of our mortality. The thought of our own death or that of a close family member is too difficult for most people to consider. Additionally, in many cultures preparing a Will is just not done. Someone back home will take care of everything. And for most, a Will prepared by an attorney is not something they can afford. Paying $500-$1,000 per person for the last thing they will need is not affordable for most.
Whether we can accept it or not, we know that every soul shall taste death. Not one of us will get out of this life alive. And even though a Will may not be needed in most Muslim societies overseas, it is definitely needed in the U.S. where Muslims are a minority, religious traditions are different, and a Will is required to assure the wishes of the deceased are adhered to.
While there are a number of reasons most don’t prepare their Will, the bottom line for Muslims is that Islam requires us to prepare our Will. Ayah 180 of Surah Baqarah (Qur’an, 2:180) prescribes a Will preparation for anyone who leaves some property. Also the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “It is not right for a Muslim who has property to bequeath, that he should pass two nights without having a written Will with him.” (Bukhari)
Did you know that everyone over 18 years also should have a Will? Did you know those who live in interfaith families should have a Will? Did you know that, in the U.S., a Will is the only legal document which allows you to designate who will be the guardian of your minor children should you and your spouse pass away? The reality is, without a Will outlining our wishes, a judge will decide who gets our property and our children. A Will also enables us to make arrangements for pets, or give a gift after we pass to our favorite charity or educational institution.
In addition to the Last Will and Testament is it also important to complete your Medical Directives, also known as the Living Will and the Medical and Financial Powers of Attorney. The Living Will gives you the ability to determine whether or not you want to remain on life support and to let your family know your wishes. The Powers of Attorney give your representative the ability to handle your affairs if you are temporarily unable to. Within these documents you will want to indicate your burial wishes. This is important for Muslims who may live with a spouse or other family members who either don’t know or don’t believe in your Islamic funeral traditions.
To ensure your Will meets Islamic requirements, discuss the requirements for property distribution with your trusted Imam or Sheikh. Outline the agreed upon distribution of your property, determine who you want to be the guardian for your children, and include it in the Will questionnaire provided by your attorney. To ensure state requirements and public policy concerns are met, you will want your Will reviewed and prepared by an attorney in the state in which you live.
Since we know every soul shall taste death make 2013 the year you complete your Will!
For those concerned about the cost, consider enrolling in a legal plan that includes the Will as part of the plan benefits and allows you to pay a small monthly fee for attorney and legal services. This is a smart way to budget for everyday and occasional, trivial or traumatic legal services including Will preparation for you and your family. Encourage your friends and family members to have their Will prepared today!
Aneesah Nadir, MSW, PhD is an independent agent with LegalShield providing access to top-rated attorneys and a variety a legal services including Will preparation for individuals, families, small business owners and their employees for a small monthly fee. Contact Dr. Nadir at 480 233 6547 or www.greatlegalbenefit.com/pnadir.