Inheritance of Spouses

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1) Husband

  1. His share is 1/2.
  2. He is partially excluded to 1/4 if the deceased (i.e. his wife) leaves behind children or grandchildren (however low down the line), male or female.
  3. If the husband has multiple wives, he will only be partially excluded to 1/4 if the wife or wives with whom he had children dies. Example: A man has four wives A, B, C  and D. He has two children from wife A, and zero children from any of the other wives. Now if wife A passes away, the husband will receive 1/4 of her estate, since she left behind children. But if wife B passes away, he will get 1/2 of her estate since this wife did not leave behind any children of her own. The children from wife A are only considered her own, they are not the children of any of the other wives. Rather, they are considered the step-children of the other wives.
  4. If  a wife who has a child from a previous marriage passes away, then the husband will still be partially excluded to 1/4.
  5. If the husband has multiple wives, and one of them passes away, the other wives do not inherit in her estate. There are no ties of inheritance between the wives of the same man.
  6. If the wife/wives pass away leaving behind no children of their own (neither from current, nor from a previous marriage), then the husband will get 1/2. In this case, even if the husband happens to have children from a previous marriage he will still inherit 1/2, as those children are not from the deceased wife/wives.

Example 1: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Husband
  • Mother
  • Father
  • 2 Nephews

The 2 nephews are excluded by Father (Rule #9). Husband gets 1/2 as there are no children or grandchildren.

Example 2: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Husband
  • Father
  • Mother
  • 4 sons

Husband gets 1/4; Father gets 1/6; Mother gets 1/6; 4 sons share residue equally amongst themselves.

Example 3: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Husband
  • Paternal grandfather
  • 1 granddaughter

Husband gets 1/4; Granddaughter get 1/2; Grandfather gets 1/6 + residue.

Example 4: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Husband
  • 2 Step-sons (the sons of the second wife of the husband)
  • Father

Husband will get 1/2 in this case, since the woman did not leave behind any children of her own. Father gets 1/6 + residue; the steps-sons do not inherit. There are no ties of inheritance between step-sons and their step-mothers.

2) Wife

  1. Her share is 1/4.
  2. She is partially excluded to 1/8 if the deceased (i.e. her husband) leaves behind children or grandchildren (however low down the line), male or female.
  3. If there are multiple wives, they all share the 1/4 or 1/8 equally amongst themselves.
  4. If there are multiple wives, and the husband had children with even one of the wives, then all the wives will be partially excluded to 1/8. Lets again take the example of a man with four wives, A, B, C, and D. If the husband (now deceased) had children only with wife A, then all four wives share 1/8. In other words, their collective share (which otherwise would have been 1/4) is now reduced to 1/8. No matter through which wife he has a child, the child will be the husbands. Hence, when he dies (leaving behind his own child), the wives will be partially excluded to 1/8.
  5. If the deceased husband leaves behind a child of his from a previous marriage, even then the wife/wives will be partially excluded to 1/8.
  6. If the deceased husband leaves behind no children of his own (neither from current, nor from a previous marriage), then the wife/wives will receive 1/4. In this case, even if the wife/wives happen to have children of their own from previous marriages they will still inherit 1/4, as those children are not from the deceased husband.

It should be clearly understood that for partial exclusion to apply to a spouse, the deceased spouse must leave behind a child (whether from the current marriage, or from a previous marriage). As long as the deceased spouse leaves behind a legitimate child, the other spouse will be partially excluded. However, in the case of a woman, even if she leaves behind an illegitimate child, the husband will still be partially excluded to 1/4.

Example 1: A man dies leaving behind

  • 3 Wives
  • Mother
  • Father
  • 1 Granddaughter

The 3 wives share 1/8 equally; Granddaughter gets 1/2; Mother gets 1/6; Father gets 1/6 + residue.

Example 2: A man dies leaving behind

  • 1 Wife
  • 2 Sons (from a now deceased second wife)
  • Mother

The wife will receive 1/8; The mother gets 1/6; The 2 sons share residue equally.

Example 3: A man dies leaving behind

  • 2 Wives
  • 4 Sisters
  • Father
  • Mother

The 2 wives share 1/4 equally; The 4 sisters are excluded (Rule #2); the mother gets 1/6 (due to the 4 sisters, even though they are excluded), while the father receives 1/6 + residue.

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