Authorizing another to pay zakat on one's behalf
1- My brother (may Allah grant him mercy) passed away forty days ago. He is survived by a wife and three children who include a boy in the preparatory stage, an eleven-year-old boy suffering from health problems and needs special care and a seven-year-old girl.
Over two years ago, my brother entrusted me with a sum of money to which he added another sum almost two months before he passed away. He asked me to pay zakat on the first sum when the first [lunar] year had passed. However, due to his illness and our preoccupation with him for more than five months prior to his death, he did not ask me to pay its zakat at the end of the second year. Is it obligatory to pay zakat on this sum before dividing the estate?
2- My brother (may Allah grant him mercy) was used to giving sadaqah [voluntary charity] from his own money during the month of Ramadan. However, since he was working abroad, I was the one responsible for this task. Is it obligatory to give out the same sum of sadaqah before dividing the estate? Or it is better to pay sum from his money as an ongoing charity, seeking mercy for him?
3- My brother's wife informed me that he had told her he intended to write one of the apartments he owned in her name and specified the apartment in which they were going to live after they returned from abroad. Is the apartment considered part of his wife's legal share? Or should it first be deducted from the estate before dividing it according to Islamic law, especially since he did not write a will and there is no document to this effect?
4- My brother's estate includes two apartments. Their purchase price is similar but the selling price will definitely differ due to the time span in between. Is it permissible to give the better apartment to the younger son who suffers from health problems?
1- It is obligatory to pay zakat on the aforementioned sum before dividing the estate. This is because an estate is only divided after settling any debts and a debt owed to Allah has more right to be fulfilled.
2- It is impermissible to give sadaqah from the estate except after obtaining the consent of the heirs. This is because the money has become their property after the death of the deceased.
3- Since the husband did not bequeath the apartment to his wife and there is no written document to prove that he had either sold or gifted it to her, the apartment is included in the estate and all the heirs have a share in it. There is no legal objection if the wife takes it as her share.
4- There is no objection to choosing the better of the two apartments for the younger son with the consent of the other heirs.
Allah Almighty knows best