Property Ownership Dilemma
Q: My father bought the property and added my name and my sister’s. When my sister got married and left, he removed her name. When he died, only his name and mine was on the property. The mortgage was payed by my father, a little by my sister, and I payed the remaining large amount of it off. When my parents left to live abroad permanently it was unclear whether my father left the property for me only though I considered the property to be mine and treated it as such by spending on it etc (though I considered the land and property in Pakistan to belong to all of us, namely my mother, two sisters and myself). I began to pay the bills on it while he was still here. I think I vaguely remember him saying that he’s left it to us (myself, my ex-wife and our children remained in the property) but I am not 100% sure what he meant – though my ex-wife said she is sure that he said he gave it to us. There were no other witnesses to these conversations with my father. After my father’s death I added my mother’s and previous wife’s name on explaining clearly that if I were to die both of you should not fight over it but split it accordingly. I am now remarried and my mother lives with us. I have two sisters and also 4 children from my previous marriage. My two sisters and mother consider that they are owed inheritance from my late father. My father passed away in 2002 and when my previous wife and I split up in 2011, my two sisters told me about their inheritance, saying that we did not mention it earlier as our mother, my wife, children, and myself were residing there. As a financial settlement with my ex-wife, £80,000 will be payed to her from the sale of this property. Please issue an Islamic verdict (fatwa) as to who this property belongs to. Jazaak Allah khair.
The first thing that we should clarify in this matter is that property being registered in a person’s name does not necessitate ownership, nor does the fact that a person is living in a property or spent money on the property necessitate ownership. However, some of these things are indicators of ownership and could be used to give a judgement in the absence of clear ownership.
If your father did clearly mention that he gifted the property to all of you, then it would be divided into 3 shares for you, and two sisters. No inheritance is involved in this situation because the property would have left your father’s ownership before he died.
Likewise, if he gifted it to you solely, it is not a matter of inheritance whatsoever.
The last situation would be that you and your father both owned the house jointly as a 50/50 share. This would mean that 50% of the house is initially yours and then 2/3 of your father’s share would belong to your sisters, 1/8 to your mother, and the remaining amount to you.
The fact that your father removed your sister’s name from the property after she got married and left the property, and also left the UK to live in Pakistan with your mother indicates that he left the property to you. Also, the fact that you have been paying the bills, maintenance, along with the remainder of the mortgage, all this coupled with your ex-wife’s testimony that she is sure that your father gifted it to you indicates that the property went into your full ownership. The principle that is mentioned in the books of jurisprudence of “Possession is an indication of ownership” (اليد دليل الملك) also supports this. 
Finally, I would like to highlight that settlement, pleasing the claimant, and avoiding dispute is always the best option especially between family members, Allah ﷻ says, “And settlement is better.” (4:128).
Answered by Shaykh Bilal Brown
 Kashf al-Asrar, 3:378; Fath al-Qadir, 8:175; Al-Ikhtiyar, 2:144.