Q: Does the family house have to be sold when the husband or father dies?
In a typical family with a husband, wife and some immature children living in a house, how should the house be distributed if the husband dies? Surely it would be too difficult to tell the widow and her children to sell the house and split the money according to Islam. Where would they live?
What is the best way to act upon the dictates of Islam and not cause great difficulty at the same time?
How will the ruling be different if the woman jointly owns the house?
How will the ruling be different if the children are mature?
الجواب حامدا ومصليا ومسلما ومنه الصدق والصواب
A: If the property was owned solely by the husband then upon his death his wife and minor children would inherit. However, whilst each is entitled to a share it is not necessary that the shares must be distributed immediately provided this is in the best interest of the minors. If the interest of the minors is not served by non-distribution or the mother would like her share then the absence of an alternative abode cannot be sufficient reason not to distribute the shares.
If the property was jointly owned by the wife then the above would apply to the share of her husband.
If all heirs are major and they wilfully agree not to distribute then they may do so even if they have to forgo their interests. However, if one or more demand their share they cannot be hindered from taking it. The remaining heir/s must either buy them out or else sell the property and give them their share. Again, the absence of an alternative abode cannot be sufficient reason not to distribute the shares.