Bequest For an Heir

By Mufti Shafiq Jakura and Mufti M.D. Mangera
Posted: 8 Rajab 1434, 18 May 2013

Q.) My brother passed away recently. He had verbally told his four daughters (he has no sons) that after his death all his property belongs to their mother. The deceased has four daughters, two surviving brothers and three sisters. Do they have any rights on the deceased’s property?

A.) If the deceased had only gifted away his assets to his wife upon his demise, then this is a bequest in terms of the Shariah. The hadith is emphatic that a bequest cannot be made for an heir. Since the wife is an heir it was incorrect to make such a bequest for her and hence the bequest is invalid.  The net- estate (i.e. after funeral expenses and debts, and thereafter bequests ---to non heirs--- up to a maximum of 1/3rd of the remainder) needs to be distributed according to the Shariah, which in the case of being survived by a wife, four daughters, two surviving brothers and three sisters with no ascendants, is distributed into 168 equal shares, 21 for the wife (i.e. 1/8th), 28 shares for each daughter, 10 shares for each brother and 5 shares for each sister.

However if the deceased had in his lifetime given over his assets to his wife whereby he relinquished complete control and possession over to his wife in his lifetime then these assets belong to the wife.

And Allah Ta'ala Knows Best.