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Distribution of ones assets to his children while he is still alive.

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

We are 4 sisters and 1 brother. Recently, our father distributed $100,000 of his assets to his children. He gave 33% to his son and 16.667% to each of his daughters. He thought all of the daughter’s husbands would inherit favorably from their families but his son’s wife would not, thus the son got more. Though living, he distributed this gift according to shariah rules on inheritance after death. We all received our gift according to his wishes. Over a year had passed and most of us either invested or spent some portion of our gift. One night, our father attended a talk at the masjid regarding Islamic Inheritance. He learned that whilst living, a parent should not favor one child over the other. He immediately requested his son to return approximately $13,000 to him so that he could redistribute to his daughters. Each child would then receive $20,000 instead of the original 2:1 split. I informed our father that not only is he being unjust, he no longer has the right to request his son to give back what was freely given to him as a gift over a year ago. At the same time, our father has informed all of the daughters that he plans to take away from his son and give to the daughters. I can understand that any future gifts whilst living should be equal, but not what was already given in the past. Our father wants to leave this world with a clear conscience. Does father have the right to ask back from our brother and is our brother obligated to return it?

Answer

From your question it seems that the reason for your father giving more to the sons over the daughters, is that the sons will need more on account of their having families to support, while the daughters are being supported by their husbands.

If this is the case and your fathers intention wasn’t to cause harm to the daughters, then it is not necessary for him to give equally to all, in fact it is mustahab to give more to those who are more in need. Thus there is no need for him to take the money back. (Ahsanul Fatawa Vol.6 Pg.256)

and Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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