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Winding Up An Estate

Question

• Valuing assets. If an asset, such as a property, can be valued by different means (eg: municipal/real estate/insurance evaluations) with each resulting in a different value, which means of valuation should be adopted? Consider this when each heir would prefer their suggested method be adopted to serve their own interests.

• Dividing assets. If more than one heir would like to receive a particular asset as part of their share, how is this resolved?

• Are the heirs allowed to make deals of trade between themselves before the estate is divided to settle disputes? Example: Heir 1 and 2 both would like to inherit asset X as their share. Heir 1 agrees to allow heir 2 to inherit that asset on condition that heir 2 immediately sells it to heir 1 once the estate is settled.

• To what extent should the heirs be informed about how the estate was valued and how the value of their share was determined? Do the heirs have a right to receive from the executor a list of all assets and liabilities and how the value of each was determined? It is assumed that some executors are more thorough than others in their documentation and note keeping.

• How is it determined which heir will receive which asset as their inheritance? Is it acceptable for the executor to call each heir and say “The value of your inheritance in the estate is X. in lieu of this you will inherit asset A, B and C”. To what extent can the heirs’ question this?

The question “to what extent” keeps reappearing as it would be helpful to know how Islam draws the lines of reasonable questioning in these matters.

• If several heirs want the same asset for different reasons, does the merit of each ones claim matter? Merit here is referring to the spirit of inheritance. For example, a son and a daughter both would like to inherit the business as part of their share. The daughter would like it for financial gain and to increase in material wealth. The son would like it so that he now has the capacity to care for his mother, who is left to the care of her sons. Who settles this dispute? Does the son have a greater claim due to his more meritorious intention?

 

• How can the issue of fatwa shopping and “My Moulana” vs “Your Moulana” be resolved? Fatwa shopping is common with each seeking a ruling to suit their own end. “My Moulana” vs “Your Moulana” may arise when an arbitrator is needed to settle disputes. Each heir may want an arbitrator to be appointed who they believe is more sympathetic to their own cause. Is it appropriate for the deceased to have dictated in the will which person/ Aalim/ organisaton they would like to intervene should the need arise?

Answer

1) When valuing a property, the ideal method is to consider the market value.  This can easily be done by getting a Real-Estate Agent to evaluate the property. The method used by most estate agents is a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA).

2) When a person passes away, each heir becomes an owner in proportion to his/her Shar’ie share in every item left by the deceased.

Instead of dividing each item, the easiest way would be for each of the heirs to make a mutual agreement with his/her co-heirs and take a certain asset (for example, something like a motor vehicle) as whole or part of his/her share of the estate.  The remaining heirs will then gift or sell their shares in that asset to the one taking it. This will be valid if there is no non-Baaligh child or insane person among the heirs. In the presence of a non-Baaligh child or an insane heir, a senior family-member who is closest in kin to the non-Baaligh child/insane person or alternatively the executor of the estate (if one was appointed) should act on their behalf to arrange such an agreement in distributing specific assets.

If two heirs want one specific item (as mentioned by you) and no agreement can be reached for the disputed item, the heirs can agree to auction the item and sell it to the highest bidder amongst the heirs.  Whoever is willing to pay the most for the disputed item will take ownership of it. This will be valid if all heirs agree to the auction and there is an executor, etc. on behalf of a non-Baaligh child or insane heir.  The heir will then (after deducting his/her share of the item’s value) pay the rest of the heirs for the item with the inheritance he receives or any other money which he has. This payment will then be distributed amongst the remaining heirs.

If no agreement (of an auction) can be reached between the heirs, the rules of Qismah (dividing an item in portions according to Shar’iah) will apply. The rules of Qismah are detailed in the books of Fiqh and each item will have a ruling of being divided depending under which category it falls: So let us say that it is an item which is capable of being physically divided, then it must be physically apportioned with each heir being given his/her respective share. For example, there are 20 Kilograms of rice in the estate for instance, then this will be physically apportioned and each heir will be given the amount of kilos due to him/her. In the case of an indivisible item such as the example of a motor vehicle, each heir will inherit a proportionate percentage of the vehicle. If any heir wishes to take the vehicle, he can buy out the shares of the other heirs, at a mutually-agreed price. If two heirs want the vehicle, they can jointly purchase the vehicle from the other heirs. If no agreement can be reached here too, the vehicle can be sold on the market to an outsider and the proceeds of the sale can then be distributed amongst the heirs, in proportion to their Shar’ie shares. 

3) This will be permissible and such an arrangement will be regarded as a promise. Heir 2 is then morally obliged to fulfill his promise, meaning that it would be meritorious for heir 2 to honour the promise of selling his share in asset “X” to heir 1. This promise is however, not binding on him in terms of Shari’ah which means that after the estate is winded up, heir 2 can change his mind and not sell his share in asset “X” to heir 1 and instead sell it to another heir or even to an outsider.  (it must however be noted that at the time of making the promise, his intention must not be to break the promise, but to keep the promise. Yes, after the estate is winded up, if certain valid factors constrain him not to honour the promise, he is at liberty to do so).

4) There must be transparency in the winding up of the estate. Based on this yes, the heirs do have a right to be fully informed about how the estate was valued and the shares determined. They have the right to receive a list of all assets and liabilities and how the value of each was determined. 

5) It is not permissible for the executor to force an inheritor to accept an asset as his share of the inheritance.  Rather he should leave it to the inheritors to make an agreement amongst themselves. If they cannot reach an agreement, then Qismah will be applied (which was explained above in paragraph No. 4 of Answer #2).

6) From the outset, no heir has more merit in terms of what you have averred. In terms of Shari’ah, each heir becomes an owner according to his/her share in every item left by the deceased. After all the heirs are allotted their shares, then the heirs can reach a mutual understanding amongst themselves and decide who should receive what asset on the basis of who can benefit the most from that asset. If they then all agree to allot that asset to a certain heir, the remaining heirs can either gift or sell their portions in that asset to that designated heir. 

7) It is advisable for the deceased to specify in his Will which Mufti/Aalim or Ulema organization should intervene at the time of dispute. This would be the ideal way as it would resolve the issue of Fatwa shopping and “My Moulana” vs “Your Moulana”. If the deceased himself did not appoint anyone to resolve disputes, the heirs should (with mutual agreement) appoint a learned and reliable arbitrator. The decision of the arbitrator will then be regarded as binding on all the heirs. 

Checked and Approved By:

Mufti Muhammed Saeed Motara Saheb D.B.

References

وأما البناء فيقسم بالقيمة اتفاقا وعليه أي على قول محمد الفتوى كما في أكثر المعتبرات

 [4/133، مجمع الأنهر في شرح ملتقى الأبحر لشيخي زاده، دار إحياء التراث العربي]

وأما البناء فيقسم بالقيمة اتفاقا كما في الجوهرة والإيضاح

 [6/264، رد المحتار على الدر المختار لابن عابدين، أيج إيم سعيد بباكستان، الأولى ، 1406]

ولو كان في الميراث رقیق وغنم وثياب فقسموا وأخذ بعضهم الرقيق وبعضهم الغنم جاز بالتراضي

 [4/209، خلاصة الفتاوى للظاهر البخاري، مكتبة رشيدية]

ولو صالح عن نصيبه من العروض والعقار خاصة أو عن بعض الأعيان دون البعض جاز، هكذا في فتاوى قاضي خان.

 [4/268، فتاوى الهندية، دار الفكر، الثانية، 1310]

(ومنها) الرضا في أحد نوعي القسمة، وهو رضا الشركاء فيما يقسمونه بأنفسهم إذا كانوا من أهل الرضا، أو رضا من يقوم مقامهم، إذا لم يكونوا من أهل الرضا فإن لم يوجد لا يصح، حتى لو كان في الورثة صغير لا وصي له، أو كبير غائب، فاقتسموا؛ فالقسمة باطلة؛ لما ذكرنا أن القسمة فيها معنى البيع، وقسمة الرضا أشبه بالبيع، ثم لا يملكون البيع إلا بالتراضي، فكذا القسمة، إلا إذا لم يكونوا من أهل الرضا كالصبيان والمجانين فيقسم الولي أو الوصي إذا كان في القسمة منفعة لهم؛ لأنهما يملكان البيع فيملكان القسمة، وكذا إذا كان فيهم صغير وله ولي، أو وصي، يقتسمون برضا الولي أو الوصي، فإن لم يكن نصب القاضي عن الصغير وصيا، واقتسموا برضاه فإن أبى ترافعوا إلى القاضي، حتى يقسم بينهم، ومنها حضرة الشركاء أو من يقوم مقامهم في نوعي القسمة، حتى لو كان فيهم كبير غائب لا تجوز القسمة أصلا ولا يقسم القاضي أيضا إذا لم يكن عنه خصم حاضر ولكنه لو قسم لا تنقص قسمته؛ لأنه صادف محل الاجتهاد فلا ينقض.

 [7/22، بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع للكاساني، دار الكتب العلمية، الثانية، 1406]

وإن أخرجت الورثة أحدهم عن عرض أو عقار بمال، أو عن ذهب بفضة، أو بالعكس صح قل، أو كثر

[ص521، كنز الدقائق للنسفي، بتحقيق سائد بكداش، دار البشائر الإسلامية، الأولى، 1432]

وإذا كانت في التركة دار وحانوت الورثة كلهم كبار وتراضوا على أن يدفعوا الدار والحانوت إلى واحد منهم عن جميع نصيبه من التركة جاز لأن عند أبي حنيفة – رحمه الله تعالى – إنما لا يجمع نصيب واحد من الورثة بطريق الجبر من القاضي وأما عند التراضي فذلك جائز ولو دفع أحد الورثة الدار إلى واحد من الورثة من غير رضا الباقين عن جميع نصيبه من التركة لم يجز يعني لا ينفذ على الباقين إلا بإجازتهم ويكون لهم استرداد الدار وأن يجعلوها في القسمة إن شاءوا وهذا ظاهر

 [5/205، الفتاوى الهندية، دار الفكر، الثانية، 1310]

وإذا اقتسم القوم القرية وهي ميراث بينهم بغير قضاء قاض وفيهم صغير ليس له وصي أو غائب ليس له وكيل لم تجز القسمة،

 [5/214، الفتاوى الهندية، دار الفكر، الثانية، 1310]

ويجوز بيع أحدهما نصيبه من شريكه في جميع الصور ومن غير شريكه بغير إذنه إلا في صورة الخلط والاختلاط فإنه لا يجوز إلا بإذنه، وقد بينا الفرق في كفاية المنتهى.

 [3/5، الهداية للمرغيناني، بتحقيق طلال يوسف، دار احياء التراث العربي]

 قال أصحابنا ومالك والحسن بن حي والشافعي لا بأس ببيع من يزيد وكان الأوزاعي يكره المزايدة في الميراث بين الورثة والقسمة بين أهلها فأما غير ذلك فلا

 [3/60،  مختصر اختلاف العلماء للطحاوي، بتحقيق عبد الله نذير أحمد، دار البشائر الإسلامية، الثانية]

 انظر II

المواعيد لا يتعلق بها اللزوم، ولكن يندب إلى الوفاء بالوعد

 [4/132، المبسوط للسرخسي، دار المعرفة، 1414]

ولا تجوز قسمة وصي الميت على الكبار وهم كارهون

 [3/350، الأصل للشيباني، بتحقيق محمد بوينوكالن، دار ابن حزم، الأولى، 1433]

ولا تجوز قسمة وصي الميت على الكبار وهم كارهون؛ لأنه لا ولاية له عليهم في المعاوضة والتصرف في مالهم إذا كانوا حضورا

 [15/70، المبسوط للسرخسي، دار المعرفة، 1414]

 “وإذا حكم رجلان رجلا فحكم بينهما ورضيا بحكمه جاز” لأن لهما ولاية على أنفسهما فصح تحكيمهما وينفذ حكمه عليهما، وهذا إذا كان المحكم بصفة الحاكم لأنه بمنزلة القاضي فيما بينهما فيشترط أهلية القضاء،…” وإذا حكم لزمهما” لصدور حكمه عن ولاية عليهما

 [3/108، الهداية للمرغيناني، بتحقيق طلايوسف، دار احياء التراث العربي] 

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