He Left a House, Two Sons and No Will

By Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Posted: 2 Rajab 1424, 30 August 2003

Q.) My friend's uncle died few months ago, he left two sons and a house. He made no will at all as to how to divide the estate.

One son lived with the father till he died and the other son lived separately. The son who lived with the father made renovations and decorated the house while the father was alive.

A surveyor has valued the house, and it valued at 80,000.00 (Eighty thousand pounds).

The situation at present is as follows:

1. Now that the father has died the question is how should the estate be divided Islamically, as no Will was left?

2. The younger brother is saying, because he spent money on the house while his father was alive that amount should be deducted from the total value of the house when the wealth is distributed. The younger brother spent 20,000.00 in renovations.

The two brothers are arguing between themselves. What is the correct way to divide the estate Islamically? [Vashiullah]

A.) In principle, if the deceased was survived only by two sons and had no other children, or both or one of the two parents, then the entire estate will be divided into two equal parts. Each son will inherit one share.

If the son who lived with the father and decorated the house by himself, it will be regarded as Tabarru (voluntary act) for which he cannot make any claim against his brother. He had decorated the house and enjoyed the benefits of the decorated house while staying there. If the value of the house is $80,000, each brother is entitled to $40,000. The elder brother may offer his brother an amount as a gesture of goodwill for decorating the house which enhanced the value of the house. And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best