Estate Settlement Process of a Muslim Estate
The estate settlement process of a Muslim estate emphasises greatly on the settlement of debts and liabilities to God and to men. Hence, before the estate of the deceased can be distributed to his heirs, all debts owed by the deceased and all prior claims against him must first be paid.
The settlement process in order of priority is as follows:
- Satisfaction of religious obligations, such as
- Satisfaction of all zakat payments that are unpaid;
- Performance of the Haj through an acceptable proxy;
- Making donations of the specified amount to redeem fast days unobserved.
- Payment of funeral expenses.
- Redemption of mortgaged property.
- Payment of all other debts owing by the deceased.
- Payment of legacies under a valid will.
- Distribution of net estate among specified heirs.
- Apply to the Syariah Court for a Certificate of Inheritance (COI).
- The COI will identify the surviving specified heirs, their relationships and shares to the estate (you can run an inheritance trial calculation at the Syariah Court website www.syariahcourt.gov.sg) according to the Faraid.
- An application is then made to the High Court (if the estate exceeds S$3M), otherwise to the Sub-Court for the letter of administration to enable the court to appoint an administrator to clear the estate.
- The administrator will clear the estate in the order of priority as stated above.
- The specific heirs under the Faraid is as follows:
- Spouse (surviving husband or wife)
- Children (adopted children are excluded, and children born out of wedlock can only inherit from their mothers)
- Paternal grandparents and paternal great grandfathers
- Maternal grandmother
- Descendants from the male line (daughter’s son is not a specific heir even if he is a grandson)
- Siblings including half siblings who share a common father (consanguine sibling) or a common mother (uterine sibling)
- Nephews (limited to sons of full brothers and consanguine brother)
- Paternal uncles
- Male cousins (limited to sons of full paternal uncle and consanguine uncle)