My mother passed away recently and only left behind a house cash free worth £160,000. She leaves behind three sons and three daughters. I was the daughter living with her. My mother left a will leaving her entire estate to her granddaughter (my daughter) only. My question is that how will her estate be distributed? Please kindly provide the evidence from the Quran and Sunnah in this regard. In addition, if my siblings are entitled to a share, I do not possess any equity and am unable to get a mortgage because according to English law, the estate is to be transferred to the granddaughter.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
The rules of making a will and inheritance are divinely ordained. Allah Almighty has specified in the Quran the heirs that automatically inherit from the deceased and their shares. It is, however, possible for a person to write a will subject to the following two conditions:
First, it is prohibited to make a will for an heir under Islamic law, such as the children, and if someone does so, it will be deemed void. The Prophet ﷺ said:
إن الله قد أعطى كل ذي حق حقه فلا وصية لوارث
“Verily, Allah has given every person with a right his due, so there is no bequest for an inheritor” (Sunan Abī Dāwūd, 2870; Sunan al-Tirmidhī, 2120; Sunan Ibn Mājah, 2713; Sunan al-Nasāʾī, 3642).
Second, a will is only permitted in one third of the wealth. The Prophet ﷺ said:
الثلث والثلث کثیر
“One third [is permissible] and one third is a lot” (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 5354)
The granddaughter in this scenario is not an heir under Islamic law. Therefore, it was permitted for the deceased to write a will for her in up to one third of the estate. Accordingly, she will only be entitled to one third of the estate (£53,333.33), and the remainder two third will be distributed among the deceased’s children in the following manner:
Each of the three sons – 2/9th (22.22%) (£23703.70)
Each of the three daughters – 1/9th (11.11%) (£11851.85)
It is the responsibility of the heirs and the granddaughter to ensure that the estate is distributed according to the aforementioned calculations. It is permissible for you to purchase the shares of the other heirs. If they agree for you to defer the payment, or provide you a loan, this is commendable. However, this is not necessary upon them. Ultimately, inheritance is their right and they can insist on the house being sold if you are unable to provide them their shares.
Allah know best
7 Rajab 1441 / 1 March 2020
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmad and Mufti Muhammad Tahir