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How Does Muslim Inheritance Work in Singapore?

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

Inheritance can be very different not just in different countries, but also for different religions. In Singapore, Muslims and non-Muslims are subjected to different sets of inheritance law.


If you are a non-Muslim, when you die, your money and other assets will be distributed based on your valid will or in the absence of a will, based on Singapore’s intestacy law.



For Muslims, the distribution will be based on Faraid, or Muslim inheritance law. With a valid will, up to 1/3 of your estate can be distributed to non-Faraid beneficiaries.


(Note: This article is intended for Muslims in Singapore. Check out



Who's a Muslim?

According to the Administration of Muslim Law Act ("AMLA"), a "Muslim" is a person who professes the religion of Islam and if you are a Muslim domiciled in Singapore, Muslim law applies to you.



What is Faraid?

Faraid is the Islamic law on inheritance and deals with how a deceased Muslim’s assets are distributed. Faraid is under AMLA and the Syariah Court in Singapore manages it. Under AMLA, the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura ("Muis"), also known as the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, is a statutory body that advises on all Islam matters and looks after the Muslim community in Singapore.


How your assets will be distributed under Faraid depends on your family composition. For example, a son gets twice the share of daughter and in the absence of what’s considered a male heir (eg. son or uncle), a portion of the estate will be given to Baitulmal, or in simpler terms, given to the Muslim community.


(We'll discuss more about Baitulmal in a later section of this article.)


If you want a rough idea of how your assets will be divided amongst beneficiaries, you can use the online trial inheritance calculator. But to get an absolute calculation, you must get an Inheritance Certificate from the Syariah Court, which you can apply online through their website. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to apply for an Inheritance Certificate.


You are allowed to will away a maximum of 1/3 of your entire estate to non-Faraid beneficiaries. If you have a Muslim will (Wasiat), your executor (the person you appoint to distribute your assets) will need to go to court to get a grant of probate before distributing your assets according to your will. The rest will be distributed under the Faraid.


If you don’t have a Muslim will, your next-of-kin will first need to be appointed as an administrator (the person the court approves to distribute your assets), get a grant of letters of administration, and your assets will be given out based on the Faraid.



Why Do Muslims Need a Will?

If the Faraid has already decided for me, why do I still need to have a will?


A will can be used to distribute assets to non-Faraid beneficiaries, such as a non-Muslim spouse, an adopted child, charity or friends.



Here are some advantages of writing a Muslim will:



What Makes a Muslim Will Valid?

A valid non-Muslim will has these main requirements:

  1. You must be 21 years old or above and it must be in writing

  2. Witnessed and signed in front of two adults (to ensure that you have a sound mind)

  3. Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries

For a Muslim will to be valid, according to Muis, there are additional requirements such as:

  1. The will has to be witnessed by at least 2 male Muslim adults

  2. The beneficiaries can only be non-Faraid beneficiaries

  3. The purposes must be permissible by Islamic law

These are just some of the key rules to keep in mind, but we encourage you to find a lawyer who is familiar with Syariah law to make sure your Muslim will is valid.


Find and compare lawyers that can deal with Muslim law at Immortalize Marketplace.



What is Baitulmal?

Baitulmal, administered by Muis, is the institution that acts as a trustee for the Muslims. It looks after assets from which members of the Muslim public could benefit from.


All or part of your estate may go to Baitulmal if, for example,

  • There are no rightful beneficiaries

  • No one claims your estate

  • You have no male heir



Not Everything Falls Under Faraid

Faraid and Muslim will only applies after a person’s death. During one’s lifetime, a Muslim can give to whoever he/she wants. If you plan in advance, there are tools available that can help you better protect the interest of your family and loved ones.


Here is a list of some Muis-suggested alternative estate planning tools that you can use:

  1. Hibah - Gift given out while you’re alive.

  2. CPF and insurance nomination - Treated as gifts. Your CPF and insurance will be distributed based on your nomination after you pass away. Without nomination, they will go to your estate and be distributed based on Faraid.

  3. Joint Tenancy - For properties held under joint tenancy, the right of survivorship applies and the surviving owner gets 100% of the property when a co-owner passes away.

  4. Deed of Family Arrangement - A legal document that can allow beneficiaries of an estate to alter the distribution made under the will or intestacy laws.

There are many other known instruments such as a trust, Nuzriah or Hibah Ruqbah. Please consult a lawyer who is familiar with Syariah law on what's most suitable for your circumstances.


Find and compare lawyers that can deal with Muslim law at Immortalize Marketplace.



What is the Probate and Administration Process like for Muslims?

Before your executor or next-of-kin can process your assets, they will have to go through a legal process called probate and administration to get a grant from the court that gives them official rights to manage and distribute your possessions.


Muslims and non-Muslims go through a very similar probate and administration process.



The key difference between Muslims and non-Muslim's probate and administration process is that a Muslim executor/administrator has to first get an Inheritance Certificate, indicating who are the beneficiaries and how many shares of the estate each beneficiary is entitled to.










Find a Muslim law-proficient lawyer, compare prices, and kickstart your estate planning


 

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article or site should be construed as providing legal advice or advice of any sort. The information provided are general in nature and may become inaccurate over time. Please consult a professional for advice.


For any issues or queries, please contact j@immortalize.io


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