Can a Person With No Heirs Bequeath His Entire Property?

Shafi'i Fiqh

Answered by Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan


If a person has no Muslim heirs, are there any limitations on the division of property or the number of beneficiaries he may bequeath his property?


Thank you for your question.

Scholars agree that a person who has heirs may not bequeath more than one-third of his estate. However, they differ regarding the bequest of the person who has no heirs. Imam Nawawi captured this difference of opinion in his al-Majmu‘. He said, “Scholars of our time have all conceded that the bequest of an individual with heirs, who bequeaths more than one-third of his wealth, will not come into effect unless his heirs permit it… As for the person who has no heirs, the view of our school and that of the majority is that his bequest of more than one-third will not be valid. However, Abu Hanifa, his students, Ishaq, and one narration of Ahmad permit it (the bequest of more than one-third for the person who has no heirs).”

Accordingly, the individual with no heirs may bequeath his entire estate based on the Hanafi school and one version of the Hanbali school. This would not be permitted in the Shafi‘i and Maliki schools.

And Allah knows best.
[Shaykh] Abdurragmaan Khan
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdurragmaan Khan received ijaza ‘amma from various luminaries, including but not restricted to: Habib ‘Umar ibn Hafiz—a personality who affected him greatly and who has changed his relationship with Allah, Maulana Yusuf Karaan—the former Mufti of Cape Town; Habib ‘Ali al-Mashhur—the current Mufti of Tarim; Habib ‘Umar al-Jaylani—the Shafi‘i Mufti of Makkah; Sayyid Ahmad bin Abi Bakr al-Hibshi; Habib Kadhim as-Saqqaf; Shaykh Mahmud Sa’id Mamduh; Maulana Abdul Hafiz al-Makki; Shaykh Ala ad-Din al-Afghani; Maulana Fazlur Rahman al-Azami and Shaykh Yahya al-Gawthani amongst others.