It might feel a little morbid thinking about your will but it turns out that writing one is something every Baha’i must do in their lifetime. I discovered this recently when the birth of my first son inspired me to think about the future a little more than I normally do. I discovered that writing a will is in fact a law from the Kitab-i-Aqdas.
It’s a good thing too, because apparently here in Australia if you have no will in certain circumstances everything you own will go back to the state! Yikes!
Because a will is a legal document, it’s important to remember to seek some proper legal advice before drawing one up. You can buy templated will kits, but for me it was nice to have someone qualified doing the work rather than bungling it up myself accidentally – not that I’d ever know!
There are no specific instructions on the content of wills of Baha’is, but there is an instruction on adorning it. In the Kitab-i-Aqdas, Baha’u’llah states that:
The testator should head this document with the adornment of the Most Great Name, bear witness therein unto the oneness of God in the Dayspring of His Revelation, and make mention, as he may wish, of that which is praiseworthy, so that it may be a testimony for him in the kingdoms of Revelation and Creation and a treasure with his Lord, the Supreme Protector, the Faithful. Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas
So at the head of your will you must have the Most Great Name, this can be written in any of three ways: ‘Yá Bahá’u’l-Abhá’, ‘O Glory of the Most Glorious’, or as calligraphy similar to that shown in the photo of the roof of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette.
Following this as the quote says there should be a tesimony of belief. There’s no specific language and it’s up to you as a Baha’i to express yourself as you feel is appropriate.
Other than adorning the will, there are lots of other important considerations to keep in mind, including:
- Burial Instructions Baha’is have specific instructions for being buried that, for example, include not being cremated. While you should ensure loved ones around you know of these provisions, your will is a good place to write them in.
- Payment of Huquq’u’llah
Huquq’u’llah is an individual responsibility and is best handled on a continual basis throughout your life. However you may wish to make provisions for the Huquq’u’llah payment for your final year. How you arrange this needs some thought as you want to make sure the executor of your will can actually work out what and how to pay. You may wish to consult the Deputy Trustee of Huqúqu’lláh in your area.
- Bequeaths to Baha’i Institutions As a Baha’i you may choose to bequeath some of your possessions to a Baha’i institution or fund. If you have a valuable item or property you might want to add that on request from the institution the executor of your will sell the item or property and give the proceeds of the sale instead. Also you should probably send a copy of the will to the Baha’i National Office so they have a record of your plans.
Ultimately drawing up a Baha’i will is an obligation for all Baha’is and something that need not be too onerous and morbid. Once you’ve done it you can periodically update it as needed and otherwise forget all about it, with the peace of mind that everything is in place!