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Two Houses and Inheritance

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Q: A man buys a home and does renovations to it. He builds another house and only a wall separates the two houses but the houses are on one property. The man passes away and leaves a son and daughter. With regards to the property, must the son pay the daughter out her share or can the daughter request that she doesn’t want her share but wants one of the houses? Is this allowed and can either party request things? E.g. the girl doesn’t want her third of the house but she wants one house. Can this be done or not?

A: According to the Law of Inheritance, the son owns two thirds and the daughter one third of the entire estate. The son does not need to pay the daughter our her share; instead she will retain her one third in the estate. However, if she asks to be paid out, the son can do this by evaluating both houses jointly, then paying to his sister one third of that value.

It is permissible to submit a request for certain specific items in the estate. If other heirs give permission, the requesting heir can keep those items. So if the daughter asks for one house, the son can agree to give her one of the houses and relinquish his claim to ownership in that house. The daughter will also let go of her share in the other house, bearing in mind that she owns a third of each house. This will be a compromise between the two.

Alternately, the son can ask her to pay him out for his share in the house that she chooses to take.  A simple way to do this is that she pays the son two thirds the value of the house she has taken, minus one third of the value of the other house, which represents her share in that house. Evaluation must be done according to current market rates.

Mufti Siraj Desai

This answer was collected from AskMufti.co.za, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Siraj Desai of Darul-Uloom Abubakr, South Africa.

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