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Importance of Residuary Beneficiary

بِسۡمِ اللهِ الرَّحۡمٰنِ الرَّحِيۡمِ

Legally, if an individual passes away without surviving beneficiaries (heirs), the HM Government Legal Department (Bona Vacantia - BV Division) assumes trusteeship of the estate; in cases where the estate remains unclaimed, it reverts to the Crown. Upon my recent review of unclaimed estates in the UK, a notable number belonged to individuals of Muslim descent, with five unclaimed estates registered under the surname Ali and five under the surname Hussain.

Furthermore, in English law, in the event of drafting a Will and subsequently undergoing divorce proceedings, any assets designated to a former spouse become null and void upon finalization of the divorce. Property earmarked for a former spouse will be treated as if the spouse had passed away on the date specified in the decree absolute. Bequests intended for a former spouse will instead be directed to the residuary beneficiary.

To preclude such circumstances, it is imperative to designate a residuary beneficiary in your Islamic Will. I advocate for the inclusion of the following clause:

"In the event of my demise without any surviving heirs, I hereby bequeath the remainder of my estate to [insert name of charity, Islamic organisation, or masjid]."

Residuary heir pic


The residuary beneficiary need not be exclusively a charity; it can also be a local mosque or an organisation dedicated to beneficial work for Muslims, such as the British Islamic Medical Association. Opting for a registered charity offers the added advantage of inheritance tax relief. It is essential for the residuary beneficiary to exist both at the time of Will drafting and at the time of death to comply with both Islamic and English legal requirements. Additionally, it is important to note that you may still gift up to one-third of your net estate in accordance with Sunni Islamic law, independent of the designation of the residuary beneficiary.


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