Dividing an Estate for Inheritance

Hanafi Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My father passed on in 1992. He left 4 plots of land. On 3 plots there are buildings of different values. My father had 2 wives and had children from both (alhamdulilah).

Does the inheritance have to be divided into two equal parts and then each household, i.e, the two wives and their children divide among themselves or will it be divided equally from the outset for each person, meaning considering the two households as if they were one household.

Also we were told that we sinned by not dividing the inheritance right after my father’s death. Is this true?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. Please pardon me for the undue delay in response.

(1) In general, every heir, regardless of which household he/she belongs to, has a specific share of the total estate. The default is that each individual part of the estate (like each plot of land, for example) is divided among all heirs based on respective shares. However, if the heirs mutually agree, then the estate could be divided in a way such that one person or family has one entire plot while another one has another plot, as long as everyone still receives his/her respective share.

For specifics, a local reliable scholar should be consulted.

(2) The estate of the deceased must be divided immediately upon his death, as every heir becomes an immediate owner of his or her share and has the right to their property. Delaying therefore is sinful, so due care must be taken. [Maydani, Lubab]

And Allah knows best.

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani