Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Losing loved ones during the pandemic: The legal rights of Muslim heirs

PandemicSince the Coronavirus health crisis hit our country, deaths continue accumulate daily. The global pandemic is causing us to lose friends and family. Due to a significant increase in death rates resulting from COVID-19, more people are in need of help due to inheritance related problems. 

It is common for the deceased to leave behind their estate and/or assets they possessed during their lifetime. The estate "comprises of all property that the deceased had owned, whether movable and/or immovable."

When Muslims die, there are four duties that need to be performed with such assets they possessed. 

They are:

  1. Paying funeral and burial expenses
  2. Paying the debts of the deceased (if any)
  3. Determining the will of the deceased, if any (which can only be up to one third of the estate)
  4. Distributing the remainder of the estate and property amongst the relatives or heirs of the deceased

Shariah law governs the legal distribution of property in Bangladesh. 

According to Sayeda Silma Tamanina, it is necessary to determine the relatives of the deceased who are entitled to inherit the estate or property along with the proportion of the shares to be inherited by them individually and collectively."

The amount of heirs can be very broad and sometimes distance family members are entitled to succeed in the absence of primary heirs. Also, a son inherits double the share of a daughter in these circumstances. 

Inheritance is considered an "integral part" of Shariah Law giving heirs and descendants a right to claim the estate and property of their deceased family members. 

However, the heirs must take the proper legal steps to ensure the legal transfer of the properties. These steps include:

  1. Make an inventory of all assets
  2. Collect the Warisham Certificate or Legal Heir Certificate 
  3. Collect the Succession Certificate
  4. Mutation of Lands 

After completion of these steps, the inheritors can successfully transfer the properties in their individual names.

See Sayeda Silma Tamanina, Losing loved ones during the pandemic: The legal rights of Muslim heirs, The Daily Star, July 29, 2020. 

Special thanks to Jim Hillhouse (Professional Legal Marketing (PLM, Inc.)) for bringing this article to my attention.


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