Inheritance Laws in Israel: A Comprehensive Guide
Inheritance and estate management can be a complex process, particularly when it involves multiple jurisdictions and legal systems. Israel, a country with a unique blend of religious and secular laws, has its own rules and regulations governing inheritance and estate management.
This guide aims to provide an overview of the key aspects of Israeli inheritance law and estate management, helping you navigate the process and understand your rights and obligations as an heir or estate administrator.
Israeli Inheritance Law: An Overview.
Israel’s inheritance law is primarily governed by the Inheritance Law of 1965, which applies to both Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of the country. The law is based on a combination of civil law principles and Jewish religious law (Halacha). The guiding principle of Israeli inheritance law is that property should be distributed among the deceased’s closest relatives, with a preference for the spouse and children.
When a person dies without leaving a valid will (intestate), Israeli law prescribes the following order of inheritance:
Spouse: The surviving spouse is entitled to half of the estate if there are children or grandchildren and two-thirds if there are no children (but other relatives exist).
Children: The children of the deceased, including adopted children, inherit the remaining half of the estate (or one-third if there is no spouse). If a child predeceases the deceased, leaving behind their own children (the deceased’s grandchildren), the grandchildren take their parent’s share in equal parts.
Parents: If there is no spouse or children, the deceased’s parents inherit the entire estate.
Siblings: If there are no surviving parents, the siblings inherit the estate in equal shares.
Other relatives: In the absence of the above relatives, more distant relatives may inherit according to a specific order outlined in the law.
Testate Succession: Wills and Inheritance.
A valid will overrides the default rules of intestate succession, enabling the testator (the person making the will) to determine how their property should be distributed after their death. Israeli law recognizes several types of wills, including:
Handwritten wills: A will be written entirely by the testator in their own handwriting, dated, and signed.
Witnessed wills: A will signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who also sign the document.
Oral wills: In exceptional cases, such as the imminent danger of death, a person may declare their last wishes orally before two witnesses, who must then reduce the declaration to writing within 30 days.
It is highly recommended to seek lawyers in Israel when drafting a will to ensure that it complies with Israeli law and accurately reflects your intentions.
Upon a person’s death, their estate must be administered and distributed according to their will, or in the absence of a will, according to the rules of intestate succession. This process is overseen by the Israeli Inheritance Registrar, which is responsible for:
Registering the death and opening a file for the estate.
Receiving and examining wills and other inheritance documents.
Issuing inheritance orders or probate orders, which confirm the heirs and their respective shares in the estate.
The actual administration of the estate is typically carried out by an executor (named in the will) or an administrator (appointed by the Inheritance Registrar in the case of intestacy). This person is responsible for managing the deceased’s assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs.
Inheritance Tax in Israel.
As of January 1, 2004, Israel abolished its inheritance tax. This means that heirs do not have to pay any taxes on the property they inherit from a deceased person. However, it is important to note that other taxes, such as capital gains tax, may still apply when disposing of inherited assets.
In the case of foreign citizens or residents with assets in Israel or Israeli citizens with assets abroad, inheritance matters can become more complicated due to the interplay of different legal systems. In general, Israeli courts will recognize and enforce valid foreign wills, provided that they do not contradict Israeli public policy or mandatory inheritance rules.
Conversely, foreign courts may have jurisdiction over certain aspects of an Israeli estate, depending on the location of the assets and the citizenship or residency of the deceased and their heirs.
Navigating inheritance and estate management in Israel can be a complex task, particularly for those unfamiliar with the country’s legal system.
By understanding the key aspects of Israeli inheritance law and working with experienced law firms in Israel, you can ensure that your assets and property in Israel are managed and distributed in a manner that aligns with your wishes and protects the interests of your loved ones.
Are you in need of legal representation in Israel? Eli Shimony Law Office is dedicated to obtaining successful outcomes and building lasting connections with our clients. We offer straightforward, easy-to-understand advice, as well as attentive legal support and assistance. Get in touch with us today!
Eli Shimony – Israeli law firm & Israeli Succession Lawyer represents clients on all legal matters in Israel. For any questions please contact us and we will be happy to assist.
By email: [email protected], By phone: +972-52-2769773, +972-3-5507155.
The above is only general information and does not replace legal advice which is usually necessary before taking legal proceedings.