We very well know that none of us is going to live forever; all of us are destined to die; the icy hands of death will spare none. The young and the old young, the sick and the healthy, the rich and the poor are in equal danger to become its prey anytime anywhere. If death is so imminent and impending, should not we be very well prepared for it? Merely realizing that it can come anytime is not sufficient; some practical steps need to be taken so that not only we meet our Lord such that He is pleased with us but also we do not leave our family and heirs in any spot of bother.
For a God-fearing person, the foremost preparation for death is that he leads a life of virtue and shuns vice. He never becomes persistent on a sin and whenever he is soiled by its stains, he immediately washes them by sincerely repenting before God. He has to maintain this priority all his life as far as he can.
Now besides this God-fearing attitude that is constantly required from us as a preparation for death, there are some other spheres as well that need vigilance and attention. Some of these include the following.
1. A will should be made for the assets and wealth that is being left behind. A person may be sensible enough that the will made should not in any way infringe the rights of the actual heirs. In this regard, as directed by the Qur'an, Muslim husbands must make a will in favour of their wives regarding their maintenance in case they become widows. A will can also be made in favour of the heirs in case a particular heir has done some special service or is in some special need.1
2. A person may own intellectual property like books, magazines, websites – in particular if they are a means of financial return. A clear view about these assets should be documented and given to the heirs.
3. A person may be involved in financial obligations and transactions known only to him. This includes borrowing, lending as well as business and work liabilities. A list of all these financial obligations must be documented and a responsible person must be directed what he must do about them.
4. A person may have in his or her possession important documents and papers like licenses, agreements, cheque books, old bills etc. Similar is the case of keys and passwords. A list of all these should be made and the heirs guided about them.
5. In case a person wants to, he or she should also make a will to donate body organs that may prove useful for others. This is an act of great virtue.
6. Family relics and artefacts can also be in a person's possession. Their care-taking and smooth transfer to the next generation must also be thought of beforehand.
7. A person should be sensitive about body cleanliness and hygiene. His or her mortal remains will soon be in the hands of people who will bathe these remains, enshroud them and consign them to the grave. A lack of physical cleanliness may make the bathers form an embarrassing opinion about the deceased.
These are some of the important areas about which we all should write a memorandum and a will as soon as we can and lodge them in the safe-keeping of a trusted one. Of course, as long as we live we can keep making changes in the will once made depending upon the circumstances that may arise.
(Dr Shehzad Saleem)
1.This of course is a will that is not on the basis of familial ties which is forbidden since in this case shares have been specified by the Almighty.