Wife’s ownership of the house in inheritance

Fatwa ID: 02178

Answered by Molana Eunus Ali

Question:

Assalam – o –  Alaikum,
I am writing my Islamic will and following the shariah split of my assets in case of my death. Upon sharing the will with my wife for her feedback, she is not pleased with the fact that I am proposing to sell our only house and split the proceeds of the sale as per shariah between my parents, my wife and three kids. ( I am proceeding towards setting up a bare trust and have executioners to my will).

Over the period of years she has willingly spent money on the house out of of her own salary and is stating she owns the house equally.

for clarification, on rough estimates she has spent 7% of of the total value of the house. House valued at 220K currently and she has spent 15K

I have paid the mortgage, bills and the general upkeep of the house for the complete term.

Can you please give guidance on the matter.
1) How I should engage my wife
2) How should I go about rewriting my will (if need be).
3) Should I pay her the money back?

Please also contact me if you need more information.

Jzkllah Khair

P.S.please advise which fiqh school you follow, thanks

Answer:

Bismillah

  1. From the Shariah point of view, the house will belong to the individual who had invested in the purchasing of the property. The mere changing of the name on the lease will not make the additional person an owner (Islamicaly) when the intention is not to gift the property to the added person.However if the house is gifted to another, then Islamicaly they will become the owner of the property.[1]

If the wife had invested any amount in the purchasing of the property, the amount (or percentage) of the house which she has paid for will belong to her and will not be up for distribution along with the husbands assets after the his death. Putting aside the wife had invested in the purchasing of the property, she will also inherit an amount of the house which has been stipulated by the shariah from the husbands share after his death.

However if she did not directly invest in the purchasing of the property, rather she spent her money in the decoration of the house after it had been purchased by the husband.Then after the death of the husband she will be only entitled to her amount of the share of the housewhich has been stipulated by Shariahand not an extra the amount due to her spending money on the decorating of the property.

  1. According to the above explanation if the wife did in fact invest in the purchase of the house, then it may be helpful to clearly state in the will that the wife is an owner of a portion of the house, and the distribution of the husband’s estate should take place in the remainder.

If the situation is not as such and she did not invest in the purchase of the house, there will not be a need to rewrite the will as the wife will only be entitled to that percentage of the house which has been stipulated by the shariah as mentioned above.

  1. If the wife is a partner in the purchasing of the property, it will be permissible for you to purchase her share of the property from her with the condition that she agrees to this. If the wife agrees to sell her share of the property, the price of the share will be mutually agreed upon between them.[2]

If the wife is not a partner in the purchasing of the property, it will not be an obligation to pay her the amount spent she had spent in the decoration of the house. However, if you feel that paying her back the amount she had spent decorating will resolve any issues that have come about you may do so.

P.S. We follow the Hanafi School of Jurispudence.

Only Allah knows best

Written by Molana Eunus Ali

DarulIfta Birmingham.

Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah


[1]FatawaRahimiyyah, Volume 10, Page 296, DarulIsha’at

 

[2] An introduction to Islamic Finance by Mufti MuahammadTaqiUsmani, Page 28

 

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