Can I give away all my wealth before dying?

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam
Question: My children have careers and are settled. My wife has her own property and investments and income.Am I free to spend my wealth (in its entirety) as I see fit while I am alive and leave nothing for my heirs?
Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
I pray that you are in the best of health and faith, insha’Allah.
Yes, in terms of permissibility, it would be permitted for you to spend your wealth as you wish as long as it does not impinge on your ability to support your wife and other dependants.
However, the sunna would be to leave wealth for your inheritors, even if they may not be in need of it. And this, too, is what generosity would entail, particularly as it is the sunna of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). Spending on your family is a form of tremendous charity when coupled with lofty intentions for the sake of Allah Most High.
Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited me in the year of the Hajj of Farewell on account of a serious illness I had. I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, this illness has affected me as you see and I have property but no heirs other than my daughter. Shall I give two-thirds of my property away as sadaqa?’ He replied, ‘No.’ I asked, ‘A half?’ He replied, ‘No.’ He said, ‘A third, and a third is great (or a lot). It is better to leave rich heirs than to leave them poor, begging from other people. There is nothing you spend, desiring by it the face of Allah, but that you will be rewarded, even for a morsel you put in your wife’s mouth.’ I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, will I be left behind [in Makka] after my companions leave?’ He said, ‘You will not be left behind, for any virtuous actions you do will raise you in degree and elevation. And then perhaps you might be left behind so that some people will benefit from you and others be harmed by you. O Allah, let My Companions complete their emigration and do not let them turn back on their heels,’ but poor Sa’d ibn Khawla had the Messenger of Allah grieve over his death in Makka.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Ibn `Allan explains that this tradition (hadith) encourages us to strengthen family relations, show excellence to one’s relatives, show gentleness towards one’s inheritors, and that giving to one’s family is also a means of tremendous reward when one has a sincere intention for the sake of Allah. [Ibn `Allan, Dalil al-Falihin]
The only exception to being able to do as you wish with your wealth would be in the case of a mortal or terminal illness (marad al-mawt). Details of such a case can be explained upon request.
See also: The Twofold Virtue of Giving Charity to One’s Family
And Allah alone gives success.
Tabraze Azam
Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.