My wife and I own a home together. When I die, my interest in the house goes to my wife. Does that violate Sharī‘a?

Strictly speaking, yes.

Some would consider this a transfer during lifetime, so it would not violate Sharī‘a. Others would argue that because the transfer is effective upon death, it would be an invalid lifetime transfer according to the Sharī‘a. However, if the Islamic heirs consent to this transfer at the time of the testator’s death, the transfer would not violate the Sharī‘a.

Depending on the circumstances of the family it may be reasonable to consider the house the wife’s house because she had invested efforts, money, and/or time in maintaining it. It is only fair that she receive the house. The same is true if the husband’s wife passes away and he receives the marital residence.

Finally, strong Islamic authority indicates that a wife is not responsible for the domestic chores for the family and her husband. Some scholars agree but only for a wife who was accustomed to such lifestyle prior to marriage. Based on this Islamic law authority, a husband may be required to hire domestic help to provide these services. If his wife provided those domestic chores, such as preparing food, caring for the children, and taking care of clothing, the husband may be required to financially compensate his wife for all the domestic services she provided him and the family. If your wife provided these domestic services, you may wish to pay off the moral debt/obligation you owe her for these services by giving her the marital residence.

To better protect the financial security of your wife should you predecease her, use our ISLAMIC WILL software to prepare your own customized Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state, which will allow you to increase your wife’s mahr and/or acknowledge a moral/religious debt owed to her.

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