What is the General Rule of Testamentary Succession (Wills) under Muslim Law?

Another work of authority generally accepted by all courts in India, as well as by the Privy Council, is the Fatawa Alamgiri. This was compiled in the seventeenth century under orders of Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. It is a collection of the most authoritative fatwas (or expositions of law), and is considered by many to be of even greater authority than the Hedaya. But here again, it is the law of the Hanafi sect that is mainly reflected, as the Muhammadan sovereigns of India all belonged to that sect.

Who can administer the Estate of a Deceased Muslim?

The estate of a deceased Muslim is to be administered in accordance with the Indian Succession Act, which has replaced all Islamic rules in the matter.

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The persons entitled to administer the estate of a deceased Muslim are, in order of priority, the executor appointed by his will, or the administrator appointed by the Court, in cases where the deceased has not left a will. Failing both, his heirs are entitled to administer his estate.

How an Estate of a Deceased Muslim is to be Applied:

The estate of a deceased Muslim is to be applied successively in payment of (1) his funeral expenses and death-bed charges; (2) expenses of obtaining probate, letters of administration or succession certificate; (3) wages due for services rendered to the deceased within three months just preceding his death by any labourer, artisan or domestic servant; (4) other debts of the deceased according to the respective priorities (if any); and (5) legacies not exceeding one-third of what remains after all the above payments have been made.

A Muslim, therefore, cannot dispose of by will more than one-third of what remains of his property after payment of his funeral expenses and debts, and the remaining two-thirds must go to his heirs as on intestacy.