Zakat on a minor's property
Is there zakat on the property of my grandchildren who are minors? The property was put under the trust of the Probate Court after their father's death.
The majority of scholars maintain that zakat is obligatory on the property of a minor, a foolish person who is careless with his money or an insane person all of whom are suspended from dealings. This is the opinion implemented for fatwa because zakat is a financial obligation that is not waived by age, extravagance or insanity but is to be paid from the property of the above categories by their guardians. Scholars based their opinion on the general implication of the Qur`anic verses and authentic hadiths on the obligation of zakat on property that has reached nisab [minimum amount upon which zakat is due] and has been in a person's possession for one lunar year.
- Take, [O Mohammed], from their wealth a charity by which you purify them and cause them increase, and invoke [Allah's blessings] upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurance for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing."
- When the Prophet [pbuh] sent Mu'adh to Yemen, he told him, "Inform them that Allah has imposed upon them charity [zakat] taken from the rich among them and given to their poor" [Muslim].
Since minors, spendthrifts and the insane receive zakat if they are poor, they must likewise pay it if wealthy.
- Al-Shafi'i narrated through Yusuf ibn Mahak that the Prophet [pbuh] said, "Invest the funds of the orphans so that they may not be used up by zakat" [This is a mursal hadith that is strengthened by the general implication of the above texts and by its chains of transmission. The same hadith was mentioned as a mawquf hadith from 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him].
- Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet [pbuh] said, "Trade with the funds of orphans lest it be depleted by zakat" [Al-Hafez and al-'Iraqi declared it authentic].
- 'Amru ibn Shu'ayb narrated from his father from his grandfather that the Prophet [pbuh] said, "He who is entrusted with the money of an orphan, is to trade in it lest it be eaten up by zakat" [Al- Tirmidhi].
Had zakat not been obligatory on the property of minors, spendthrifts and the insane, it would not have been permissible for the guardian to pay it out from their funds since they are not permitted to make voluntary contributions from such funds except for something obligatory. For this reason, the Prophet [pbuh] ordered the guardian to foster the wealth of these categories of people so that they would not be consumed by zakat. 'Umar, Ali, Ibn 'Umar, 'A`isha and Jaber ibn 'Abdullah, may Allah be pleased with them all maintained this same opinion. There is no report that any of the Companions contradicted them except for a weak one from Ibn 'Abbas that cannot be used to counter this argument.
This is the argument that best suits the legislation of zakat as a financial obligation that is to be paid to its deserving recipients, attested to by the words of Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, "Zakat is a financial obligation on one's funds." Moreover, the three categories mentioned above are eligible to fulfill financial obligations due upon them from their funds, which their guardians make on their behalf.
The guardian pays the zakat on behalf of the minor, spendthrift or an insane person provided that the zakat funds exceed expenditures of minors, spendthrifts or an insane person and their basic needs and that one lunar year passes upon their possession.
Based on the above and in reference to the question, it is mandatory to pay zakat after one lunar year passes upon the possession of the funds by the grandchildren and which is calculated from the day of their father's death.
Allah Almighty knows best.