Rafed English

Wife's Share

Adapted from: "Making an Islamic Will" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi"

Firstly, as the definition of the “estate” shows, a house jointly-owned by a couple is divided - according to the shari'ah - into two: half becomes part of the estate of the deceased, and the other half was from before the property of the surviving spouse.

Secondly, according to the shari'ah, the wife is not entitled to land of her husband (whether an agriculture land or a residential lot): she only inherits the house on the land according to her proportional shares in inheritance.

In common ownership case, the wife is the owner of 50% of the house and the land; the other 50% becomes part of her husband's estate from which she will inherit 6.25% of the house. So in the end, the wife becomes the owner of 56.25% of the house and 50% of the land.

Both the above rules (# 3 & 4) create practical problems in this part of the world; therefore, I suggest the following:

• Either give the house to your wife during your life-time

• Or, if the value of the 50% of the land is within the one-third of your entire estate, then you can write that land to your wife in your will. In this way, half of the land is her property from before and the other half will go to her on strength of the 1/3 option in your will. Actually you can do this for the entire 50% of your residential property (house and land together) if it falls within the 1/3 of your estate. In theory it will work out like this:

    • 50% of the land and house belongs to your wife

    • 6.25% of the house is your wife's share of inheritance

    • 50% of the land + 43.75% of the house goes to her by using the 1/3 option

• Or, if the value of the 50% of the land is more than the one-third of your estate and your children are mature (bâligh), then discuss it with them and ask for their consent to write the entire house for your wife in the will. If they give the consent (which is irrevocable), then you can write the house to your wife in the will even if it is more than her proportional share of inheritance.

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