Q: The question is pertaining to my husband’s family property dispute. The great grandfather died without any will. He had 2 sons and unmarried daughters who died unmarried. The property was never really distributed officially between the 2 brothers (Dada and Kaka Dada) as they lived together. Kaka Dada did not have any children and Dada had 7 sons and 1 daughter. Kaka Dada adopted one son of Dada. Dada passed away first without any will. After his death Kaka Dada and his adopted son allegedly distributed the property among Dada’s sons, daughter and themselves as per their convenience. Kaka Dada gifted one property to his adopted son’s minor children. The whole process of distributing the property was such that adopted son got much more share than others. As only Kaka Dada was alive and he along with adopted son sold off most of the properties and never gave account of the same. Even after Kaka Dada passed away, adopted son took control of the whole property and sold some property. The other brothers never really questioned him but my mother-in-law took objection. She had helped Dada retain some land from government but never got any help from his husband (my husband’s father). The adopted son harassed my husband’s family by any means and expelled them from the ancestral house. Thereafter my mother-in-law lodged a case against the adopted son for irregularities in property distribution. The other brothers and sister was won over by the adopted son and no one helped my mother-in-law. My father-in-law was also made to obey his brother and he would give testimony against his own wife. The case dragged on for more than 30 years and still look like will go on and on. Meanwhile both my in-laws died and my husband took over the case. They are 3 bothers and 3 sisters. Unfortunately they have disagreements so my husband asked them to give him power of attorney to act in their interest. This is because only my husband has money to fight the case. Some days back adopted son’s son contacted my husband for out of court settlement. My husband is in favour of this but doesn’t have support of all siblings. Since my husband is running out of money for court case he wants this to end and take whatever best they can from the opposite party. Now my question is how should the property distribution have been done when great grandfather and then Dada died? Was Kaka Dada right in gifting some property to adopted son’s minor children as it was not his own property but rather ancestral whose distribution was never done officially. There is no account of the sold off property and the money that adopted son received. His son says that my father-in-law was given some money but there’s no proof of that. I would request you to kindly explain how to go about this settlement.
A: The estate of the great grandfather has to be distributed among all his heirs i.e. his sons and daughters and wife, if they were alive at the time of demise. Hence, we would require a breakdown of all his heirs and the sequence of their deaths and their respective heirs in order to explain how the estate should be distributed.
And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.
Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)