Question # 135: Does Islam recognize a conditional will such as the deceased stipulating that the his property not be distributed until such and such time or that his parents be allowed to live in his house until their death and then the house sold and distributed among the heirs?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: On death, the wealth of the deceased does not belong to him/her, but immediately passes on to the inheritors (after the payment of connected debts).  Therefore, it is disliked (makrooh) for a believer to apply any condition in his/her will that would delay or postpone the distribution of wealth among the legal heirs until after the death of some members of the family. Nevertheless, if all the heirs agree to delay the distribution, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Also Refer Question # 316.

Long Answer: It says in al-Mawsoo‘ah al-Fiqhiyyah: “The fuqaha’ are unanimously agreed that the estate passes to the heirs, if there are no debts connected to it, from the moment the deceased dies.” (Islamqa.info) In other words, when one dies, the wealth one leaves behind does not belong to him, but rather it belongs to his inheritors. Thus, it would not be appropriate for a believer to apply any condition in his/her will that would delay or postpone the distribution among the legal heirs until after the death of some members of the family.

Therefore, the basic principle concerning the estate of the deceased is that it should be shared out among the heirs after the person has died, and after the funeral expenses and any outstanding debts to Allah (e.g., zakah) and other people have been paid, and any specific bequests that may have been made have been dealt with. It is disliked (makrooh) to delay sharing out the estate because of the harm that this may cause to the heirs; however, if all the heirs agree to delay it, there is nothing wrong with this.

The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ stated that “…the division of an estate should not be delayed, for this will delay the heirs from being able to take their financial rights and hinder them from paying the Zakah, as every heir will protest that they have not received their share nor know how much it is…” (`Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan, `Abdul-Razzaq `Afify and `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.

Wassalaam