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Inheritance, Islamic Will, and Joint Ownership

Fatwaa ID: 2049

Question:
Assalaam Alaikum Warahmatullāh Wabarakatuh,

We live in Canada.

My parents would like to set up their Islamic Will. My father owns a rental house property and some cash here in Canada.

My father: My father has 3 surviving full-siblings, which are his 1 brother and 2 sisters, and he also has half-siblings with same father but different mother.

My mother: My mother has one surviving sibling, her sister.

My parents have 3 children, including 1 son and 2 daughters.

Questions:

  1. Which beneficiaries would my father identify on his Will including percentage distributions?
  2. Which beneficiaries would my mother identify on her Will including percentage distributions?
  3. What to do if the rental house property is under joint tenancy ownership with right-of-survivorship by both my father and my mother?
  4. What to do if the cash bank account is under joint ownership by both my father and my mother?

Jazak Allah Khair,

Answer:
In the Name of Allaah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salaamu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullaahi wa-barakaatuh.

We take note of the details of your query. We understand that both of your parents are still alive. May Allaah Ta’aala bless them with a long blissful life. It is important to understand that the distribution of the estate is dependant on the surviving heirs. Thus, a true distribution of an estate cannot be outlined until the demise of that person. It will be ideal to identify a scholarly board or even a scholar as the executor of the estate to wind up the estate after the demise and this should be documented in the will.

The answers to your queries are as follows:

  1. In the presence of the son, the siblings- full or half, will not inherit. Thus, the only heirs will be the wife, the son and the two daughters. The wife will receive 12.5% of the estate. The son will receive 43.75% of the estate while the daughters will receive 21.875% each. This is obviously if he predeceases the wife and all three children are alive at the time of his demise. If the case is different then, then this will not apply.
  2. In the presence of the son, the siblings- full or half, will not inherit. Thus, the only heirs will be the husband, the son and the two daughters. The husband will receive 25% of the estate. The son will receive 37.5% of the estate while the daughters will receive 18.75% each. This is obviously if she predeceases the husband and all three children are alive at the time of her demise. If the case is different then, then this will not apply.
  3. We understand that the rental property is owned by them. Firstly, the right of survivorship agreement in the enquired situation is invalid and unIslamic. It may not be executed Islamically. Once a person passes away, his share in something does not transfer to the other partner. His share in that will form part of his estate and be distributed amongst his rightful heirs.
    Secondly, is the partnership a genuine partnership or is the name of one spouse merely there? Simply putting someone’s name on the title deed does not transfer ownership. They may have jointly purchased it, in which case it will be based on their ownership ratios. The surviving partner will retain his/her share while the share of the deceased partner will form part of his/her estate.
    If one had purchased it and put the other’s name as a gift, then that will be valid provided that the giftee accepted it and assumed constructive possession over it during the gifter’s lifetime. In this case, it will be owned 50-50 or as gifted.
  4. At the outset, it is necessary to discuss the details and the ownership ratios and usages of joint accounts with the co-holder(s) even if it is one’s spouse. It is also important that these details are documented. There are many issues that are affected by this, including zakaah, inheritance, divorce, etc. Islam has advised us to remain clear and transparent in these issues.
    Nevertheless, issues of inheritance and also zakaah will depend on the ownership ratios. If the couple agreed that whatever is in this account is owned 50-50, then each will half of the total.
    If that agreement was not there but both spouses are depositing, then each spouse is the owner of his/her deposited amount.
    If both spouses are co-holders of the amount but only one spouse is depositing funds while the other’s name is merely there for accessing and using the funds, then the ownership of the entire amount will be on the contributing spouse unless stated otherwise.

And Allaah Ta’aala knows best.
Mufti Muajul I. Chowdhury
Darul Iftaa New York
https://askthemufti.us/

07/06/1445 AH – 01/18/2024 CE | 759

وصل اللهم وسلم وبارك على سيدنا محمد وعلى ءاله وصحبه أجمعين

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