Can a person exclude their heirs from inheritance by giving them their shares during ones lifetime? 

Q. My uncle had given his sons and daughters properties a few years ago as gifts in his lifetime. Now, he is asking them not to claim from his inheritance when he passes away because he  has already given them their inheritance and the children must leave the entire estate to his wife. Is this correct?

A. As you have stated, the properties that your uncle had given to his children in his lifetime are gifts and belong to them. These properties will not form part of your uncle’s estate upon his demise. Whatever your uncle owns at the time of his demise will form part of his estate and has to be distributed according to the Islamic Law of Succession and Inheritance amongst all his rightful heirs.

It is not correct for him to instruct his children to forfeit their inheritance on account of him giving them certain assets in his lifetime. The properties that he has given them in his lifetime are not inheritance. These are gifts. Inheritance only comes into effect after a person passes away. The children of your uncle are legitimate Shar’ee heirs and have the full right to claim their shares of inheritance upon his demise.

Yes, if after the demise of their father, the children wish to cede their shares to their mother without any coercion, they may do so. Alternately, your uncle may gift whatever assets he wishes to his wife in his lifetime as he has gifted his children.

Allah Ta’ala Knows Best

Mufti Ismaeel Bassa