Preferring some of one's children to the others during one's lifetime
A few years before his death, my father put a sum of money in a deposit account in my name. What is the ruling for this sum?
It is permissible for a person to dispose of his property in any legitimate manner and as he sees fit provided he enjoys full legal capacity (i.e. is an adult, sane, does not dispose of his property under duress, is not suspended from dealings nor suffering from death sickness). If he passes away after disposing of his property by one means or another, then his disposition—whether it is a gift, relinquishing ownership in favor of another, sale, or otherwise—is a legal and effective contract.
The property is not included in the estate of the deceased but is the exclusive right of the person in whose name it is written. None of the heirs is to share it with him or ask for a share in it. Some of the prospective heirs may receive more than others for a legal cause such as:
- A need;
- An illness;
- An affliction;
- They have many children;
- To secure the future of young ones;
- As a recompense for dutifulness or extra love;
- To aid in education or marriage expenses and so forth.
It is not considered injustice to favor a child over another for a reason. It is due to the above mentioned reasons that some of the Companions favored some of their heirs over others. This was reported from Abu Bakr and 'A`isha (may Allah be pleased with them) and others. This also explains why the majority of scholars recommend and not obligate the equitable treatment of children concerning gifts.
The sum your father deposited in the bank in your name is exclusively yours. None from among the heirs is to contest your right to it.
Allah the Almighty knows best.