Solutions

Estate Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Estate Document (Islamic Will)?

It is a document containing detailed information of the testator’s assets / estate and liabilities. It also provides detailed instructions on the means and processes of the wealth that were transferred before or the estate that are to be distributed after death.

Why do we need an Estate Document (E.D.)?

There are many good reasons.Some of the reasons are that it will assist the executor(s) in the process to distribute the estate based on the Civil system but yet in compliance with Shariah (Islamic Law). It helps the beneficiaries to understand that their portions had been predetermined by the testator. The process of distribution can be expedited because of the clear and detailed information provided by the E.D.It also contains the last advice of the testator to the legal heirs and many more good reasons.

Can a Muslim make a Will?

Yes, subjected to the Islamic Will (Wassiyah) Principle.The Estate Document can contain the Will Principle, Faraidh and other wealth / estate transfer tools.This planning must conform to the Shariah (Islamic Law) of wealth transferred and estate distribution and also to minimize unnecessary costs. Islam on contrary encourage every Muslim to plan for their wealth transfer and estate distribution as quoted in the following Hadith, “it is the duty of every Muslim who has something to be given as a bequest not to spend two nights without making a will”, narrated from al-Muwatta of Iman Malik: 37.1.1.

What are the tools that can be used in wealth transfer or estate distribution?

Some of the tools are: Gift (Hibah), Vow (Nazar), Trust (Amanah), Endowment (Waqaf), Will (Wassiyah) and Faraidh.

MUIS and Shariah Court will help in the distribution of the estate.

Yes, Shariah Court will only issue the Certificate of Inheritance (COI).There are cases where two different COIs were issued to different applicants on the same death.This certainly creates possible conflict among the beneficiaries. The process of distribution is left to the legal heir to work on.The process is not as easy as one thinks.It involves tedious and sometimes complicated issues that need a professional to handle.

Why are MUIS / Shariah Court not looking into the estate distribution problems?

Sorry, we are unable to answer for them.

The Faraidh will handle all the estate distribution matters.

No, Faraidh is just one of the estate distribution tools that determine the legal heirs and their portions when there is an estate left by the deceased. There are many limitations on the Faraidh itself. Please do not misquote us that Faraidh is not suitable in today’s context. It has its role in estate distribution just like Will, Nazar and other tools. For example, in construction work there are tools like a screwdriver, drill, a hammer, a spanner and many other tools. Each has its own application.Using a screwdriver to make a hole in the wall is still possible, but what form of hole will the end result be and what kind of effort is involved?

HDB will automatically transfer the flat to the wife if the husband dies.

Yes, this is true for flats owned under the Joint-Tenancy contract between the husband and wife.However, based on Shariah (MUIS Fatwa) the portion that belongs to the husband (deceased) must be distributed based on Faraidh if there was no prearranged transfer (based on Shariah) of the portion while the deceased was alive. Legally, the wife owns the flat totally, but based on MUIS Fatwa she has only ½ of the flat plus her share in the Faraidh portion of the deceased’s estate, the rest will go to other legal heirs or Baitulmal. Legally no one can contest the wife should she choose not to comply with MUIS Fatwa requirement.Ask yourself this question, can the wife have peace of mind (today and years to come) staying in a flat that is legally owned by her under the Civil Law and yet consciously aware that the flat is also owned by others based on MUIS Fatwa?

CPF monies will be given to the nominee/s based on the percentage in the nomination form.

Yes, this is right based on the CPF Act.However, based on Shariah (MUIS Fatwa) the CPF monies of the deceased must be distributed based on Faraidh if there was no prearranged transfer (based on Shariah) of the CPF monies while the deceased was alive.Legally, the nominee owns the CPF monies totally but based on MUIS Fatwa, the nominee can only inherit his / her share in the Faraidh portion of the deceased’s estate.Legally no one can contest the nominee/s should they choose not to comply with MUIS Fatwa requirement.Ask yourself this question again, can the nominee/s have peace of mind consuming the CPF monies that are legally owned by them under the Civil Law and yet consciously aware that the CPF monies is also owned by others based on MUIS Fatwa?A reminder to Surah An Nisaa verse 10; “Those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, eat up a fire into their own bodies: they will soon be enduring a blazing fire!”

What happens to the CPF monies that are not nominated?

CPF money that is not nominated will be transferred to the Public Trustee for distribution based on Faraidh only.The Public Trustee will not take into account the purification of the deceased’s liabilities (mankind and God) and segregation of the “harta sepencarian” for the wife.

My ‘ustaz’ told me not to nominate the CPF monies.

This can be done, but one must bear the consequence of the distribution based on CPF Acts and Faraidh only.

Insurance companies will pay the claim to the next of kin if the assured dies.

Yes.Each insurance company will pay up to $150,000/- to the next of kin if there is no nomination.The rest of the claim must come from the court order after clearing the estate duty. Based on Shariah, all the insurance claim of the deceased must be distributed based on Faraidh if there was no prearranged transfer (based on Shariah) of the insurance while the deceased was alive.

The mosque / my 'ustaz' can help us to distribute the estate.

The distribution of estate can be done by anybody.The legal heirs must understand that there are many laws and regulations that will affect the type of asset / estate involved.Be sure that the person involved knows more then just Faraidh as injustice may be done if one just applies Faraidh only without taking into consideration of other matters.A reminder to Surah Nahl verse 43;”And before thee also the Apostles we sent were but men, to whom we granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.” This refers to any man of wisdom, who were qualified to have an opinion in any such matter (refer to THE HOLY QURAN Text, Translation and commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

My family will not fight over the Estate Distribution.

This is what we always hope for. But in our experience this rarely happens when they see that the amount involved is huge and there may be other hidden personal matters among the family.

I don’t have any asset.

Most people in Singapore have at least a Medisave account in their CPF. Majority have a HDB property. All these assets are subjected to Shariah in terms of transfer.

I cannot afford to make an Estate Document.

This is a one-time cost.The cost for resolving the estate distribution problems and conflicts will be many times more if there is no Estate Document.We can work on some plans that will be affordable.

We need a lawyer to do the Estate Document for endorsement.

There is no endorsement required in making an Estate Document. Any one, who knows how, can make an estate document. Be sure that the person who makes the Estate Document knows the Shariah and the Common Law well. The endorsement only comes from the court when the E.D is submitted together with other financial documents after the testator’s death.

Can I do my own Estate Document?

Yes, if you know how to, if not then refer to Surah Nahl verse 43;”And before thee also the Apostles we sent were but men, to whom we granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.” This refers to any man of wisdom, who were qualified to have an opinion in any such matter (refer to THE HOLY QURAN Text, Translation and commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

My agent said that Muslims cannot make Wills.

Your agent was obviously misinformed about this matter.

Will the Estate Document be able to execute the distribution as planned?

When the testator dies, the Estate Document and other financial documents must be submitted to court when applying for the Letter of Probate.The court will then issue the letter of probate to the executor after studying the Estate Document for distribution of the estate based on the E.D if there is no contest. If there is a contest on the E.D, then the estate will be frozen till the contest is resolved. The E.D drafted by HTHT had been scrutinized by our expert, Associate Professor Dr Ismail Mohd @ Abu Hassan, a lecturer in IIUM in estate matters who has often been called to become an expert witness in estate matters in the courts of Singapore and Malaysia.

Is the Estate Document legal?

Any Estate Document will only become legal after the court issue the Letter of Probate and accept the E.D., that is, after the death of the testator.

Who can legalise the Estate Document?

Nobody can, except the court. Not any lawyer or even MUIS or the Shariah Court in Singapore.

I know what to do.

This is what most people think. They may or may not be right but does the legal heir know what to do?

The Estate Document is expensive.

There is certainly a cost in providing a service.An Estate Document of 2-3 pages will cost about $400 - $2000 in the market.However, our charge for a complete and comprehensive Estate Document of 10 pages or more is only about $500 – $1000. It will be many times more expensive if there is no estate document.

I have assets / property that are not in Singapore.

The claim of the assets is subjected to the law of that country.The estate distribution process can still be subjected to the Estate Document.

I have a lawyer friend that can help my family to distribute the estate.

Good, you must be sure that your friend knows the Shariah well. If not then refer to Surah Nahl verse 43;”And before thee also the Apostles we sent were but men, to whom we granted inspiration: if ye realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.” This refers to any man of wisdom, who were qualified to have an opinion in any such matter (refer to THE HOLY QURAN Text, Translation and commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali).

I can ask my lawyer friend to make the Will.

Good, you must be sure that your friend knows the Shariah in estate matters well.If not you are doing injustice to him.

Why should I get the Estate Document from HTHT Advisory Services Pte Ltd?

We are specialists in Personal Wealth Management for Muslims. We have experts in Insurance, Investment, Zakat and Estate Matters.Our cost is much lower than others. We will do any minor alteration to the Estate Document at a much lower price as part of our follow-up service.The founder of HTHT has done extensive research and written many books on estate matters. Most of the research material are now being used by others to educate the public on estate matters. (See his biodata).

If there is an Estate Document, how is the distribution process like?

The executor needs to apply for Letter of Probate from the court. A lawyer must be involved in this process as the court only deals with lawyer or the executor (if he has knowledge of how to go about with the procedures).

If there is no Estate Document, how is the distribution process like?

The legal heir needs to apply for Letter of Administration from the court and appoint the administrator of the estate.A lawyer must be involved in this process as the court only deals with lawyer or the executor. The process is normally much longer, complicated and tedious than when there is an Estate Document.

How I can be sure that the Estate Document can uphold the plan in distributing the estate.

Upon submitting the Estate Document and other relevant financial documents to the court, the decision is on the court to decide on the validity of the contents in the Estate Document.We have taken all the necessary steps as advised by our expert, Dr Ismail Mohd @ Abu Hassan of IIUM.

Can the Estate Document be changed?

Yes. It is important that the new Estate Document supercede the previous one.

When do I need to change the contents of the Estate Document?

You will need to change it when there is a major change in your estate plan, change in family structure or a major asset change.

How long will the Estate Document be valid?

The validity stands for as long as the testator does not revoke the E.D in writing.

Who will keep the Estate Document?

The testator and HTHT Advisory Services Pte Ltd will each keep 1 copy.

How will the Estate Document help in the estate distribution?

Upon the death of the testator, the appointed Executor must submit to the Court all relevant documents related to the legal heirs, assets and the Estate Document itself for the Court to review and analyse before the court can issue a Letter of Probate to the Executor.

How will the legal system know that someone has made an Estate Document?

We (HTHT Advisory Services Pte Ltd) will submit a report to the Public Trustee Wills Registry regarding the Estate Document. We will not be submitting the Estate Document itself but just the information about the creation of the Estate Document like when it was signed, who is keeping it and if there was any previous Estate Document, as required by the Public Trustee Wills Registry.

My financial information is private and confidential—why should I tell you?

Yes, why should you tell us. Without detailed information of your assets and wishes we will not be able to help you in any estate matter. We let you decide on the trust that you have on us to keep all information revealed private and confidential. Nobody will be able to help you, not even a doctor if you do not reveal any information that could help diagnose your situation.