Date : 18-01-2017

Question :

My father passed away, and as we started distributing some of the inheritance among his heirs, his other wife claimed her deferred dowry (bridal gift), although there are plots of land and other properties which we haven`t sold yet. Should we give it to her right away or after everything is sold?

The Answer :

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of The Worlds, and may His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.

Settling debts is among the rights related to the deceased`s estate, and takes precedence over inheritance; therefore, if the deceased left an estate, but was indebted, debt must be settled first, and if anything remains, then it must be distributed among the heirs. Allah, The Exalted, said (what means): "after any bequest that he may bequeath, or any debt."{An-Nisa`/11}.

Accordingly, it is prohibited for the heirs to take anything from the deceased`s estate before settling his debt, and executing his bequest, if he had bequeathed, from the third that remains after debts are settled. In fact, the wife`s deferred dowry is a debt upon the husband to which she becomes entitled in case she was divorced, her husband passed away, or she passed away (it becomes the right of her heirs). Article (43) of the Jordanian Civil Status Law stipulates: "If a particular dowry is defined in a valid marriage contract, then it must be delivered in full in case either of the spouses passes away, whether before consummating the marriage or having privacy with the wife, or in case of divorce after valid privacy with the wife."

In conclusion, the heirs in question either give their father`s other wife the deferred portion of her dowry from their own pocket, then take that amount from the sold estate, or they can sell the estate and give it (deferred portion of dowry) to her without further delay. And Allah knows best.