The Probate Process In Israel

The Probate Process in Israel

Upon the death of an individual in Israel, the fate of his property must be decided. Inheritance is the universal practice of passing on property, as well as rights, obligations, and debts. Although the practice itself appears in some form in all cultures, the rules of inheritance in Israel are subject to the jurisdiction where the deceased died owning property at the time of his or her death.

The Succession Law of 1965 in Israel (‘Succession Law’), governs inheritance in Israel. Furthermore, the Israeli courts gain jurisdiction over the estate of any person who at the time of his or her death was a resident of Israel, or who left property in Israel. Inheritance in Israel may happen in one of two ways: by will or by law. This article will focus on some key issues regarding inheritance by will and mostly the order of the probate process in Israel.

The fundamental principle of inheritance is that a person is free to distribute his or her property as they see fit. A will is the expression of a person’s wishes regarding his affairs upon his death. Therefore, the Israeli Succession Law is contingent upon the existence of a will. That is to say, a valid will overrides the default stipulations of the law regarding the identity of the heirs and the distribution of the estate. It is a binding legal document incumbent on all parties.

In Israel a will is not subject to obsolescence, and there is no limitation to the number of wills a person may create. However, it is important to note that the last valid will (chronologically) is the deciding one (in most cases), overriding any former, older wills (unless the ‘new will’ is faulty to the point of unlawfulness as decided by a court of law). It is important to make sure that a will is up to date, especially if any changes, for instance marriage, divorce, the acquisition of new property etc. have taken place.

An heir or anyone interested in the execution of a will in Israel may bring about its execution only through a Probate Order that is granted by the Israeli Inheritance Registrar. A Probate Order declares the validity and the authenticity of an existing will. The Probate Order validates the content of the will and gives it the same binding legal status as a court verdict. If the will specifies only some of the deceased’s property, the Probate Order will only be valid regarding the property mentioned in the will.

The request for a Probate Order is publicized, usually in the Inheritance Registrar Database of Applications after paying levy, in order to allow for objections to the will to be made. Some take extra precautionary actions and publicize in one of the major printed newspapers. By doing so, he defends himself from potential future adversaries of the will.

A request for a Probate Order must include the following documents:
– Two receipts: proof of payment of the government levy on submitting a request, from the Postal Bank of Israel.
– A Probate Order Request Form signed by the submitter, and verified by an attorney, notary, judge or the head of the local council.
– An original death certificate or a copy faithful to the original.
– The original will, or, in case of its absence, a separate request to submit a copy of the original will which includes the reasons why the original will may not be submitted, as well as proof of payment of government levy for the request.
– Notices to all remaining heirs notifying them of the Probate Order Request, including the aforementioned heirs’ signatures or confirmation of delivery of the notices by registered mail.

One who seeks to execute his application in an online form will have to do so alongside an attorney given the signed deposition required by the online submission. After the online submission, the attorney will have to provide within seven days a hard copy of the original will and the approval of the online request to the Inheritance Registrar Bureau, and the aforementioned documents are submitted online.

If the deceased’s place of residence was not Israel, alongside the aforementioned documents, the request must include additional documents, among them: proof of the existence of assets (such as the proof of ownership from a Land Registrar, authorization of active bank account etc.). All foreign documents must bear the signature of the Israel Consulate in the country in which they were made, as well as a foreigner law report. Documents in a foreign language (apart from English or Arabic) must be translated into Hebrew and the translations must bear the signature of a notary.

It is advised to consult an attorney familiar with Israeli Inheritance Law regarding the exact procedural requirements of the process of requesting a Probate Order. In the case where an attorney on behalf of an interested party makes the request for the order, an original Power of Attorney or a copy faithful to the original must accompany it.