Nitsan Bar-Ilan Law Firm

Inheritance law

Our firm is at your service, handling inheritance law issues such as:

  • Drafting wills.
  • Obtaining Inheritance orders /probates.
  • Objections to probates.
  • Estate Administration.
  • Distribution of property and transferring thereof into the name of the beneficiaries.
  • Drafting agreements between heirs on the division of the estate.
  • Mediation and dispute resolution between heirs.

Who should make a will

Here are three examples demonstrating the need for a will:

First, where a spouse inherits the deceased spouse’s share in the family apartment (under law, in the absence of a will), he inherits, inter alia, only half of the family apartment. Therefore, the surviving spouse’s share is 75% of the apartment, and the other 25% is divided among the other heirs – the deceased spouse’s children.

This result gives any of the deceased spouse’s children the right to file a property partition claim in court, requesting that either the surviving spouse be forced to buy that child’s share or the apartment be sold, evicting the surviving spouse, and dividing the consideration from the sale among the heirs.

A will can solve this problem, by a provision under which the surviving spouse inherits the deceased’s entire share in the family apartment.

Second, where the decedent is not married and is living with a common law spouse, after he dies the question of that spouse’s right to half the decedent’s property arises. This problem can be solved by including the entire property and stating the names of the heirs.

Third, where the heirs are minors, and both parents had died, only a will can regulate the wishes of the testators, and even provide for a trust for the property, until the children reach a certain age. The identity of the trustee and the manner in which the moneys and other property is to be handled can also be determined in the will.

How a will is made

The recommended will is one that is drafted by a professional, who is familiar with the law. The reason for the recommendation that the will be drafted by a professional is not only the form of the will and its validity, but also the importance of giving effect to the wishes of the testator, who mostly is not even fully aware of the significance of the various provision of the will.

The types of wills 

The Succession Law, 1965 (the Succession Law) allows a variety of forms of wills, such as: a handwritten will, a will before witnesses, a will made before an authority and an oral will (deathbed will). It should be noted that when the will is made with the assistance of an advocate, it is a will before witnesess.

Handwritten will

Section 19 of the Succession Law stipulates: “A hand written will shall be written entirely by the testator, and it shall be dated and signed by his own hand”. The drawback of this type of will is that the maker does not receive legal advice in regard to it, and therefore the chances of it being set aside are high.

Will made before witnesses

Section 20 of the Succession Law stipulated that: “A will made before witnesses shall be in writing, and shall bear the date and signature of the testator, who shall sign it in the presence of two witnesses, having declared before them that it is his will. The witnesses shall thereupon attest their signatures upon the will that the testator has made the declaration and has signed the will.”

In making a will before an advocate (which is mostly the case) a number of rules should be followed inter alia regarding the competence of the witnesses, their presence at the time of the declaration, etc.

Will made before an authority

This option is not commonly used, but under section 22 of the Succession Law this type of will can be made before a notary, a judge, a court registrar, the Inheritance Registrar or a member of a religious court, or by the submission of the contents of the will by the testator himself, in writing, to one of them. The testator shall declare that it is his will, and the notary, judge, court registrar, Inheritance Registrar or member of the religious court shall certify on the will that it had been read out to the testator and that the testator declared that it was his will.

Verbal (deathly ill person) will

Under section 23 of the Succession Law, a person who is on his deathbed, or views himself as being in such a situation, in circumstances justifying it, may make an oral will before two witnesses who understand the testator's language. The contents of the will and the testator's instructions, and date and the circumstances in which the will was made shall be recorded in a memorandum signed by the two witnesses. Thereafter the will must be deposited by them with the Inheritance Registrar. Such recording, signature and deposit shall be made as soon a possible. An oral will becomes void if the testator is still alive on the expiration of one month after the circumstances which warranted its making have changed and the testator is still alive.

A person who makes sure, in advance, to put his affairs in order by making a will that expresses his wishes, does not need to make a ‘deathly ill person's will’ when he is on his deathbed. If a person did not make a will in advance, he has a last opportunity to do so by making this type of will, which is a verbal will.

Although in these circumstances an oral will is a last minute necessity, it is recommended to submit such a will, if possible, before an authority, as set out above, or before an advocate.

What is spouses’ mutual will

A mutual will is a will (handwritten, made before witnesses or before an authority, and theoretically also an oral will) of spouses who make one will or two separate wills, where each will relies on the will of the other spouse.

The Succession Law imposes conditions on the revocation of a mutual will where such revocation is liable to create insoluble problems where the consent of one of the spouses to the changing the will cannot be obtained, because he died or is legally incompetent.

In this case too, we recommend seeking legal advice before making a mutual will.

Where should one keep a will

It is recommended to deposit the will with the Inheritance registrar. The deposit of a will with the Inheritance Registrar does no give effect to the will, but only makes sure that it is in safekeeping. The will can be deposited only by the decedent in person – his lawyer cannot deposit the will for him.

What is the Validity period of a will

In the absence of a provision in the will stating otherwise, the will always remains in effect, unless it is dully revoked.