Below are readers' questions about 'Inheritance/Wills', which we have chosen to answer. More detailed information on 'Inheritance/Wills' can be found on our main website, Family Law in Israel.
Yes. You can appoint a lawyer to represent you and to make the application for probate (an order enforcing the will) in Israel and can also inform the court that you are unable to take on the
role of executor of the estate and request that it appoint a professional e.g. a lawyer, to do so instead.
Yes, unless you draft a will, in which case you are free to override the provisions of the inheritance law, providing you are of sound mind when you make the will, and it is drawn up in accordance with Israeli law, and represents your genuine and last wishes, free from any pressure or undue influence etc.
If you pass away, and your will is validated in a probate procedure, then it will override your spouse's inheritance rights under law. According to Israeli law, each spouse is entitled to inherit the other's property, to varying extent, depending on whether the deceased has offspring,while the marriage still exists technically, even if the couple are separated or there are divorce proceedings underway - unless there is a valid will.
Yes! “Helping” your aunt,could, in certain circumstances, bring about the cancellation of the will, if and when it is presented for probate, should there be opposition, for example by other relatives, if you are a beneficiary under it. Your involvement could bring about the cancellation of the will, partly or wholly, under the Inheritance Act of 1965.
The Central Area District Court emphasized this in February 2011 when it rejected an appeal against a Rishon LeZion Family Court judgment that had refused to probate a will due to involvement of family members. It stressed: “ One is talking about a cumulation of circumstances that prove that the appellant and the respondent were involved in the preparation of the will, in a way which led to its cancellation. The appellant and the respondent were interested parties in the will, they chose a lawyer whom they knew to draft it, they did the groundwork in a conversation with the lawyer during which they gave him the details of the property which was the subject of the will, they were present next to the deceased at the drafting and signing of the will, and it was they who paid the lawyer’s fees.
To all this one should add the court of first instance’s finding regarding facts and credibility of the evidence of the respondent who described the circumstances of the preparation of the will “in a clear way”,who was the one who asked and begged her deceased father to sign the will, even if there was no guarantee that the matter was indeed according to his wishes.”
Assuming that one of the beneficiaries under the will has already applied for a probate order for the will to be enforced at the Inheritance Registrar, once objection is filed there, the case will automatically be transferred to the family court, where full legal proceedings will take place.
Within these legal proceedings the family court will decide whether the will is valid or not i.e. whether it fulfils the substantive and procedural provisions of the inheritance law, and whether your father, the testator, had the necessary legal capacity to make a will at the time, and was free from any undue influence, etc, and whether it represented his last wishes. It wiil consider evidence, both written and oral, including testimony of witnesses.
If the family court upholds the will, despite the objections of one of your siblings, your late father's estate will be divided according to its instructions. If not, it will be divided according to the Inheritance Law of 1965. The court can uphold part of the will,rather than the whole document, so that the estate can be divided up partly according to will, and partly according to law.
No! An illegitimate child, known as a 'Mamzer' (or bastard) in Jewish law has the usual inheritance rights of a child. These are not affected by his status, which only limits his /her capacity to marry according to Jewish law./
The answer is yes! All your children, from both sets of marriage, will have equal rights in the property upon inhertance.
Under Israeli inheritance law, if you die without a valid will, your rights in the apartment (50% share ) will be divided beween your wife from your second marriage, who wil receive half of your share(i.e 25%, bringing her share in the whole to 75%), while the remaining half of your share (25%) wlll be shared equally amongst all your children.
If you die without a will, and have no children, and are still technically married, then, under Israeli law, your wife will be your sole heir, even if you separated, or in the process of divorce. If you also have children, and are still technically married, you wife and your children will be joint heirs.
To prevent your wife from inheriting, you can make a will and dispose of your property as you wish, including an express explanation of your reasons for not naming her as a beneficiary.
Yes,under Israeli law it is legal for a person to make a will in which he expressly excludes one of his children from the list of beneficiaries, or leaves him a symbolic bequest, even giving the reasons for doing so. If the will is upheld and probate granted, after the testator's death, then that child will be disinherited or receive only the symbolic bequest, as instructed.The unfavoured child will however, have a right to object to the will being probated, in which case the Inheritance Registrar will transfer the proceedings to the family court, where they will be heard.
A will professionally drafted and signed in front of two, independent witnesses. Many people choose to get a lawyer draft a will, after getting legal advice about how to express their wishes about the fate of their property after they die in legal terms, taking into account various scenarios. Often the will is signed by two lawyers, who can give testimony in court, if needed. Where the person concerned is elderly, it may be advisable for a doctor to see him/her close to the time he/she is due to sign the will, so that a medical record can be made concerning his/her legal capacity to make a will.
Yes, there is no discrimination between an adopted and a non-adopted child, regarding their right to inherit from the adoptive parents.
Yes! In November 2015, an Israeli District Court upheld the wishes of a deceased transgender person to be cremated, rather than be buried,despite objection from the family, who claimed that cremation is forbidden under Jewish law.The court held that there is no instruction in Israeli law prohibiting the burning of a deceased’s body, or that it contradicted public policy/regulations.
Yes! If the person is of sound mind and is not susceptible to undue influence due to his medical condition or his helpless state, then he is free to bequeath his property as he wishes, in a will.
No! As long as what your wife inherits remains registered solely in her name,whether it is real estate, or money, you have no rights in it, unless the money (or proceeds of sale of real estate) is deposited or invested in a joint account. If it is, then it becomes joint property. Under Israeli law property gained by inheritance does not become joint property between spouses.
If you die while still formally married, without making a will, then your wife, as well as your children, will be your heirs. A married spouse's estate is shared between his spouse and his children, if he has not made a will, even if he is in the proces of divorce. To prevent this, you should make a will as soon as possible. You can bequeath your estate to whoever you wish and it is advisable to explicitly state that you do not want to leave your wife anything, and state why.
Yes, your son can inherit from his father, if he or she is born within 300 days of your late husband's death.
No! Until you actually become divorced, she will remain your legal spouse and be entitled to inherit if you die - unless you take the initiative, and make a will to prevent this happening.
It is possible to appoint an executor to manage the estate, in the will itself, in order to neutralize this risk. It is possible to appoint a particular lawyer or trusted individual to act as executor, or alternatively, request, within the will, that the court appoint one an executor to manage the estate.
No – providing opposition is filed to the probate application, and the court (civil or religious) dealing with the case is persuaded that the beneficiary "took a part in the making the will", which is prohibited in Israeli law and likely to result in the will's cancellation.
Yes! The practice of having a full and unedited video recording of a signing of a will is becoming more acceptable in Israel and can certainly save lengthy and costly legal battles later on. The recording is made by a neutral,3rd party specialist who gives a supporting affidavit. Both of these,plus supplementary oral testimony,if necessary,are admissable as evidence in estate cases and allow the court to form its own impressions about the testator's mental state and true wishes when he/she made the will.
In Civil Appeal Case 6198/95,Judge Beinish, stated that technological advances can help considerably in proof stage of inheritance cases and gave a reserved recommendation recommend about the practice of videorecording the signing of wills.
Yes! This is very important if there are competing wills, as the last valid will is the one that counts. The date should be the date it was signed, not drafted.
Yes, you can make a will in which you expressly bequeath your apartment to your children but give your life partner permission to live there, at your absolute discretion, until he dies, if you predecease him, subject of course, to you still being in a relationship with him, at the time of your demise.
You should also seek professional advice about whether to make an agreement with your life partner to define and qualify your financial relationship during your lifetime. You may be advised to have an agreement drawn up which would protect your own interests, especially assets owned prior to your relationship.
Yes! Any adult person with legal capacity is free to dispose of their estate as they wish. However, it would be advisable to include an explanation in the will as to why the estate is intended to be inherited by the grandchildren, and not the children, in the light of anticipated objection from the latter, who will effectively be disowned as heirs /potential beneficiaries. Inclusion of such an explanation should increase the chances of the will being upheld despite anticipated objection from the disinherited children.
Furthermore, it would be advisable for the grandparents to deposit the joint will with the Inheritance Registrar, to ensure that it will be found.
They should file opposition to the probate application, arguing that the will is invalid, and should be cancelled because of undue influence on the part of the caregiver, on whom the elderly testator was dependent, or because the latter lacked the necessary legal capacity to make a will at the time.
You are not required to by law, but it is advisable to do so, to erase any doubt about unsigned pages being swopped, if you only sign the last page. Signing each page reduces the chances of the will being challenged when probate is applied for.
Yes! Under the regulations applying to Israeli inheritance law, the court will not normally set a fee that exceeds 3% of the value of the estate. It will take into account the estate's overall value,the kind of property in it, and the type and scope of work undertaken. The court has discretion to increase the figure, to up to 4% of the estate, if exceptional work was involved.
No! A member of the Israeli public cannot gain information about a will deposited with the Inheritance Registrar during a testator’s lifetime. However, an “interested person” can request and receive information and details about a will that has been deposited there after the testator’s death.
By making a new will, by destroying the old will or by drafting a document cancelling the will, to be signed before witnesses.
Yes, to show that you had made up your mind about it. Otherwise it could be a draft.
Recently the process for applying for probate in Israel has been streamlined and includes a specific obligation to notify potential heirs under law (close relatives) if an application is being filed to probate a will which excludes them.
Under a 2016 amendment to the regulations governing Israeli inheritance law,if an application is made to probate a will which does not include at least one person from a list of close relatives/potential heirs, then the person applying for probate must attach proof of service to show that the relevant heirs under law have been informed of the application to enforce the will. Top of the list for notification are the deceased's children and the deceased's spouse at the time of his/her death. If the deceased was not survived by children or a spouse, then proof of service must be attached, in relation to the deceased's parent/s (or his/her sibling/s if they were not alive).
These changes in the regulations are in additional to the usual requirements for publication of a newspaper notice concerning the probate application, which lists the deadline for filing objections.
No! Personal attendance is vital, and there are no exceptions.
Not regarding the Israeli assets in the estate, as Israeli law requires an executor who is Israeli resident for these.
Yes - possibly on the grounds of undue influence if your aunt was dependent on her caregiver, her health was poorly, and she was lonely and isolated.
Firstly, you need to reassess the situation, and decide whether, as a person who is due to marry shortly, and even have children, your current will, made before you married, still represents your true wishes, should you die. If you think it may not, then you could make a new will, in which you include your future wife, and future children,as well as your siblings and parents, address various scenarios, and even make conditional bequests, relating to the length of your marriage, whether you have children or not, and whether your siblings and parents are alive at the time of your demise, etc.
If you do nothing, and die, while the beneficiaries under your existing will (your siblings and your parents) will may act to gain probate (an order enforcing the instructions of the will), your wife/widow, may object to the probate application, and claim rights as your common law heir, under Israeli law, together with any children you have. By cancelling your existing will and making a new one, you will be clarifying the situation, and possibly preventing a dispute concerning your estate, should you die.
Yes, in principle, but the testator’s provisions conditioning the inheritance of the new spouse must be reasonable, to be valid and upheld, and cannot prevent the surviving spouse from ever remarrying as this would be against the public interest and render the condition invalid.
This was stated clearly within the framework of unsuccessful proceedings brought by children from a deceased’s first marriage before Nazareth Family Court, which in February 2015(File 6945-04-14), threw out their plea for a declaratory judgment stating they had rights to the proceeds of the sale of one of the properties inherited by their father’s wife from his second marriage, according to his will, because, by the time she sold it, many years after his death and after probate had been granted, she had a partner.
Earlier, in inheritance proceedings, at the family court and the District (appeal) court, where the case had been heard in full, and where the wife’s inheritance under the will was upheld, it was stated that any restriction on the right of a surviving spouse to inherit must be reasonable, and a restriction of over 5 years would be unreasonable and invalid.
Not if you give clear instructions in the Israeli will to the effect that it does not cancel any previous provisions made about your non-Israeli assets.
Yes !If your grandmother made a valid will, then her property would be divided up according to its provisions. If she did not make a vaid will, then her estate would be divided up according to the terms of the 1965 Inheritance will. If you are an only child, you would step into your late father's shoes,and inherit his share,so applying the law to the information you give, your late grandmother's estate would be divided equally between you and your aunt,so you stand to inherit half.