There was a very interesting article I came across in the New York Times on April 27th, 2013. It was titled: â€œHe Left a Fortune, to No One.â€ The article was about a 97-year old real estate developer who passed away last year leaving no heirs. His wife died in 1992 and they had no children.
You may be wondering why this manâ€™s story is so interesting. The man, known as Roman Blum, died with a $40 million estate, but had no estate plan. Mr. Blum, who had no wife, no kids, and apparently through research left no family or relatives behind, will most likely have his entire estate distributed under the default rules of the State of New York â€“ it all goes to the State.
The article further discusses the numerous times when Mr. Blum intended to start an estate plan, but just never got around to it. Thus, his failure to act made the State of New York, possibly, $40 million richer. I would imagine, fairly accurately, that making the State of New York the beneficiary of his estate was not what Mr. Blum intended.
Needless to say, this is the very reason why it is important to plan, plan, and plan. Nearly 2.5 million Americans passed away last year without having an estate plan in place. The risk of having the court decide how our assets are to be distributed may not be one we, as Muslims, would like to take. It is unfortunate, but Muslims living in the United States fail to put emphasis on an issue that has been mandated upon each one of us. Narrated by Ibn Umar, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said: â€œIt is not right for any Muslim person who has something to bequeath to stay for two nights without having his last will and testament written and kept ready with him.â€
Understanding that estate planning is not a fun and popular topic to discuss or contemplate, mainly because it discusses about life after death; however, that is the very reason it should not be ignored. Whether you have $100, $1000, $10,000 or $100,000 in your account, the importance of having a plan is far greater than passing away without one. Not only would you fail to fulfill the requirements prescribed upon you, but you may fail to secure the financial security of your spouse and children, thus leaving them vulnerable at a time when they need the most comfort and protection.
Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Shariah Estate Planning, Health Care Law, Business Litigation, and Corporate Formations. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at firstname.lastname@example.org or (517) 381-2663.