IslamQA.org Logo

Finances of dementia relative

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by FatwaCentre.org
Question

Assalamu alaikum. I got a reply to my question with a request to give further information.

My grandma has been diagnosed with dementia via doctors. She remembers a few things from the past not all. However she doesn’t remember or recall recent events. She gets confused with the days and months also. She needs reminding to take medication, what days to go for a bath, who certain people are etc.

Also by rent money I should have clarified. My grandparents house is in a line of businesses so the front of the house is a shop and is currently on rent. So by rent, I meant the rent that accumulates through the shop that is on rent. After my grandfather passed away he stipulated in his will that everything went to my grandmother.

Also from your answer I get the impression that permission from my grandma needs to be sought before spending on her behalf, does this apply to everything such as charity ventures, giving gifts to family etc? Can I not donate in charity or give gifts on her behalf with her money?

Also a last note, if it makes any difference, I do have a power of attorney in my name to act on behalf of my grandmother legally.


Answer

Thank you for submitting this information. The important thing to recognise is that the shari‘a is working to safeguard the interests of all. As a vulnerable person, the shari‘a will act to safeguard your grandmother’s financial assets from harm, deceit and malfeasance.

You have mentioned that you have an ‘alim brother. Consult him and ensure that the contents of this fatwa are put into action in the most harmonious way possible. There are two issues that require fiqhi discussion.

Dementia, mental impairments, and gifting

Based on the information provided above, your grandmother would fall within the legal position of a ma‘tuh – one suffering from mental impairment. The critical aspect to acknowledge here is that as a vulnerable person, presumably with financial assets, a grandmother with dementia is susceptible to financial malfeasance and deceit from her close family. Therefore, the shari‘a has restricted the financial ability of a ma‘tuh without the permission of their shar‘i guardian. These financial abilities are limited to buying and selling. The gifting or sadaqa of a ma‘tuh is invalid.[1] Moreover, the shar‘i guardian of a ma‘tuh is not allowed to gift their wealth to others. The shar‘i guardian must act for the benefit of the person they act as guardian over, and gifting their wealth is considered contrary to this responsibility.[2] The shar‘i guardian must spend the wealth in the interests of the ma‘tuh alone. If they do not, the shar‘i guardian is liable for the damages.

As you may imagine, malfeasance from the family to dupe a specific ignorant family member is common in many societies and cultures. Time and again, one hears of stories where an unsuspecting elderly parent or grandparent is duped into signing away their assets by someone close to them. These fiqhi laws are put in place to protect the interests of the mentally impaired person to ensure that others do not cheat them. Critically, the gift-giving or sadaqa of a ma‘tuh is invalid as they are deemed unfit to recognise financial harm and loss. This is a measure put in place to protect them as gift-giving and sadaqa involves apparent loss.

The shar‘i guardian

You have mentioned that you have the power of attorney over your grandmother’s affairs. This fatwa has repeatedly used the word “shar‘i guardian” to avoid confusion with the British legal guardian.

In fiqh, your grandmother’s shar‘i guardian will be 1) descendants i.e. sons, grandsons, so on, 2) ascendants i.e. parent, grandparent so on, then 3) brothers, 4) brother’s sons, 5) father’s brothers.[3] One would follow this in sequence. This shar‘i guardian will act on behalf of your grandmother in her financial matters [refer to the first sub-heading for more information on this]. If this shar‘i guardian were to hand over this responsibility to you as their representative (wakil), this would be valid.

I have tried to stress here that the shari‘a is actively protecting a ma‘tuh from deceit and harm by putting restrictions on what they can do with their money. The shar‘i guardian is essential in this larger picture. It is a trust from Allah that this guardian must protect your grandmother’s money and ensure that it is used for her needs only. Moreover, they must ensure that they or others are not involved in any misconduct in relation to her financial assets. In the end, if the guardian themselves are engaged in malfeasance, they are liable for the damages. Most notably, in light of the shari‘a, gifting the ma‘tuh’s wealth is malfeasance.

 

Conclusion

As stressed in the introduction to this fatwa, the dissemination of this fatwa must be handled with a degree of tact and thoughtfulness to avoid any disharmony within the family. Consult your ‘alim brother and any other family members or leaders that will be able to help.

[1]               مجلة الأحكام العدلية (ص: 190) (مَادَّةُ 978) الْمَعْتُوهُ فِي حُكْمِ الصَّغِيرِ الْمُمَيِّزِ.

مجلة الأحكام العدلية» (ص187): (مَادَّةُ 966) لَا تَصِحُّ تَصَرُّفَاتُ الصَّغِيرِ غَيْرِ الْمُمَيِّزِ الْقَوْلِيَّةُ مُطْلَقًا وَإِنْ أَذِنَ لَهُ وَلِيُّهُ. (مَادَّةُ 967) يُعْتَبَرُ تَصَرُّفُ الصَّغِيرِ الْمُمَيِّزِ إذَا كَانَ فِي حَقِّهِ نَفْعًا مَحْضًا وَإِنْ لَمْ يَأْذَنْ بِهِ الْوَلِيُّ وَلَمْ يُجِزْهُ كَقَبُولِ الْهَدِيَّةِ وَالْهِبَةِ وَلَا يُعْتَبَرُ تَصَرُّفُهُ الَّذِي هُوَ فِي حَقِّهِ ضَرَرٌ مَحْضٌ وَإِنْ أَذِنَهُ بِذَلِكَ وَلِيُّهُ وَأَجَازَهُ كَأَنْ يَهَبَ لِآخَرَ شَيْئًا أَمَّا الْعُقُودُ الدَّائِرَةُ بَيْنَ النَّفْعِ وَالضَّرَرِ فِي الْأَصْلِ فَتَنْعَقِدُ مَوْقُوفَةً عَلَى إجَازَةِ وَلِيِّهِ , وَوَلِيُّهُ مُخَيَّرٌ فِي إعْطَاءِ الْإِجَازَةِ وَعَدَمِهَا فَإِنْ رَآهَا مُفِيدَةً فِي حَقِّ الصَّغِيرِ أَجَازَهَا وَإِلَّا فَلَا مَثَلًا: إذَا بَاعَ الصَّغِيرُ الْمُمَيِّزُ مَالًا بِلَا إذْنٍ وَإِنْ كَانَ قَدْ بَاعَهُ بِأَزْيَدَ مِنْ ثَمَنِهِ يَكُونُ نَفَاذُ ذَلِكَ الْبَيْعِ مَوْقُوفًا عَلَى إجَازَةِ وَلِيِّهِ ; لِأَنَّ عَقْدَ الْبَيْعِ مِنْ الْعُقُودِ الْمُتَرَدِّدَةِ بَيْنَ النَّفْعِ وَالضَّرَرِ فِي الْأَصْلِ

[2]               الموسوعة الفقهية الكويتية (45/ 161-3) لاَ خِلاَفَ بَيْنَ الْفُقَهَاءِ فِي أَنَّهُ لاَ يَجُوزُ لِلْوَلِيِّ أَنْ يَتَصَرَّفَ فِي مَال الْمَحْجُورِ إِلاَّ عَلَى النَّظَرِ وَالاِحْتِيَاطِ، وَبِمَا فِيهِ حَظٌّ لَهُ وَاغْتِبَاطٌ لِحَدِيثِ: لاَ ضَرَرَ وَلاَ ضِرَارَ.  وَقَدْ فَرَّعُوا عَلَى ذَلِكَ: إِنَّ مَا لاَ حَظَّ لِلْمَحْجُورِ فِيهِ كَالْهِبَةِ بِغَيْرِ الْعِوَضِ وَالْوَصِيَّةِ وَالصَّدَقَةِ وَالْعِتْقِ وَالْمُحَابَاةِ فِي الْمُعَاوَضَةِ لاَ يَمْلِكُهُ الْوَلِيُّ، وَيَلْزَمُهُ ضَمَانُ مَا تَبَرَّعَ بِهِ مِنْ هِبَةٍ أَوْ صَدَقَةٍ أَوْ عِتْقٍ، أَوْ حَابَى بِهِ أَوْ مَا زَادَ فِي النَّفَقَةِ عَلَى الْمَعْرُوفِ أَوْ دَفَعَهُ لِغَيْرِ أَمِينٍ، لأَِنَّهُ إِزَالَةُ مِلْكِهِ مِنْ غَيْرِ عِوَضٍ فَكَانَ ضَرَرًا مَحْضًا. أَمَّا الْهِبَةُ بِعِوَضٍ فَذَهَبَ أَبُو حَنِيفَةَ وَأَبُو يُوسُفَ إِلَى أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ لَهُ أَنْ يَهَبَ بِهَا، لأَِنَّهَا هِبَةٌ ابْتِدَاءً، بِدَلِيل أَنَّ الْمِلْكَ فِيهَا يَقِفُ عَلَى الْقَبْضِ، وَإِنَّمَا تَصِيرُ مُعَاوَضَهً فِي الاِنْتِهَاءِ وَهُوَ لاَ يَمْلِكُ فَلَمْ تَنْعَقِدْ هِبَتُهُ. وَعِنْدَ الْحَنَابِلَةِ وَمُحَمَّدِ بْنِ الْحَسَنِ لَهُ أَنْ يَهَبَ بَعِوَضٍ، لأَِنَّهَا مُعَاوَضَةُ الْمَال بِالْمَال فَكَانَتْ فِي مَعْنَى الْبَيْعِ

[3]               «الهداية في شرح بداية المبتدي» (1/ 193): ‌والولي ‌هو ‌العصبة»

«مختصر القدوري» (ص245):«وأقرب العصبات ‌البنون ثم بنوهم ثم الأب ثم الجد ثم بنو الأب وهم الإخوة ثم بنو الجد وهم الأعمام ثم بنوا أب الجد»

Answered by:
Maulana Ikramul Hoque Miah

Checked & Approved by:
Mufti Abdul Rahman Mangera
Mufti Zubair Patel

This answer was collected from FatwaCentre.org, which is overseen by Dr. Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera.

Find more answers indexed from: FatwaCentre.org
Read more answers with similar topics: