Transferring Possessions to One's Heirs Before Death

Question and answer details
Transferring Possessions to One's Heirs Before Death
Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. My wife and I suffered a lot so that we might get a child, but Almighty Allah did not will it. I now want to transfer the ownership of my apartment to my wife so that she won’t be treated unfairly by my brothers after my death when it comes to distributing the possessions I leave behind. I would like you also to know that I always help my brothers and their children. I want to know the Shari`ah point of view on this issue. Jazakum Allah khayran.

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, thank you very much for having confidence in us and we hope Allah grants you deep insight in understanding Islam and its unique teachings.

There is nothing wrong about disposing one's property by giving a part of it to one or more heirs or others during one's lifetime. But there are two conditions that must be met in this regard. Firstly, one is to be sane, in good health, and doing so out of free will. Secondly, one is not to do so in a spirit of doing injustice to the other heirs.

In his response to your question, Dr. Ahmad Taha Rayan, a professor of comparative fiqh at Al-Azhar University, states:

The questioner's desire to transfer the ownership of his apartment to his wife falls under the classification of presents one is permitted to give during one's lifetime to any person. Hence, he can do so, but there are two conditions that he is required to abide by in this respect. Firstly, he is to be sane, healthy, and doing so out of free will, without any coercion practiced against him.

Secondly, he should not mean by doing so to deprive the other heirs from their shares of his property after his departing this life. He might do so if this apartment was all or most of his property. If this was the case, he would be depriving his heirs of their rights in favor of one who would not be worthy of what he/she would take.

Besides, doing something of this kind would be regarded as disobedience to Almighty Allah's laws of inheritance. Almighty Allah has laid down the laws of inheritance Himself; He did not leave it to people to decide in this regard, so that He Almighty guarantees that every heir takes his/her right.

Furthermore, He Almighty has warned those who disobey Him in this regard that they will receive severe punishments on the Day of Judgment.

In fact, all people's property is originally Almighty Allah's, and He Almighty made them His viceroys regarding this property so that they may use this property in what is good for them. Hence, people are not entitled to distribute inheritance in a way that contradicts Almighty Allah's laws in this respect.

That is why Almighty Allah says after stressing the importance of Muslims' abiding by the laws of inheritance according to the Qur'an: (And whoso disobeyeth Allah and His Messenger and transgresseth His limits, He will make him enter Fire, where such will dwell for ever; his will be a shameful doom) (An-Nisa' 4: 14).

Based on the above, it is permissible for you, dear questioner, to transfer the ownership of your apartment to your wife as a present from you to her if you are sane, healthy, and do not mean by this to deprive the other heirs of their shares of the property you leave after departing this life.

It was reported that Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) gave his daughter `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) the crop of some of his palm trees, without giving his other children something of the like.

It was also reported that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) gave his son `Asem some of his money without giving the rest of his children.

Those both great companions were rightly guided caliphs about whom the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Stick to my Sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs after me; hold fast to them.”
You can also read:

Giving Heirs Equal Shares of Inheritance

Inheritance and Will

Why Male's Share of Inheritance Doubles Female's?