The Law Society provides guidance on Sharia wills

The Law Society of England and Wales has published a practice note advising solicitors in the application of Sharia law succession rules. The practice note provides detailed information on will drafting, trust issues and disputes over estates.

Currently, clients in England and Wales can legally choose to bequeath their assets according to Sharia rules, providing the will is signed in accordance with the requirements set out in the 1837 Wills Act.

However, Sharia rules are not identical in every Muslim country; there are differences between Sunni and Shia rules, and different interpretations of Sunni law. The Law Society's practice note primarily focuses on Sunni rules, and its procedure for directing inheritances.

For solicitors tasked with drafting a Sharia-compliant will, there are 3 key steps that must be taken, and which are significantly different to traditional probate processes. First, the cost of the burial and any debts must be paid. Second, a third of the estate must be given to charities or other recipients who would not otherwise receive the inheritance. Finally, the remainder is given to a defined set of ?primary? and then ?residual? heirs.

President of The Law Society, Nicholas Fluck, said: ?This practice note provides guidance to solicitors dealing with clients where Sharia succession rules may be relevant. This is the first time such advice has been published, and we hope it will assist solicitors with Sharia probate matters. There is a wide variety of spiritual, religious and cultural beliefs within our population, and The Law Society wants to support its members so they can help clients from all backgrounds.

?We hope this guidance will help solicitors assist their clients and go some way towards forming an idea of good practice when it comes to applying Sharia succession rules within the legal profession.?

For more information, or to view the practice note, please seeThe Law Society website.