There are thousands of real estate properties — mostly land in Israel — which have been deemed by Israeli law as having been “abandoned”. And it takes expert legal knowledge to locate unclaimed property in Israel.

“Abandoned” properties are properties which have not been claimed by any heir, usually because no heir has come forward, or cannot be identified as the legal heir. Abandoned properties are usually managed by the State of Israel until such time as a lawful heir can be identified and the property can be transferred to that heir.

In Israel, thousands of unclaimed Israeli real estate, assets totaling approximately 15 billion Israeli Shekels currently remain unclaimed, part of them owned by Jewish Holocaust victims who invested in Israel. These abandoned assets include land, developed real estate, bank accounts, stocks and bonds. In most cases the title and ownership is still in the name of the original buyers. Locating unclaimed abandoned property in Israel can be challenging and requires a specialist in this field.

“Abandoned property” is defined in section 1 of the Law as an asset in respect to which no one is entitled and able to be treated as owners, or an asset whose owner is unknown. The abandoned property in some cases is managed by the Administrator General of Israel.

Most of the so-called “abandoned” properties in Israel were purchased a long time ago — possibly in the 1930s and 1940s, when the country was under the British Mandate, or possibly even earlier, when the country was part of the Ottoman empire. Some purchasers of property during these times may have told their children or grandchildren about their purchase/s. Others did not, and their descendants have no idea that they may be heirs to these properties mostly land. Some heirs may even be in possession of an old, handwritten title deed, written in English, Arabic, or even in Turkish and as native-born Hebrew speakers, they do not understand the meaning of these title deeds.

The Israel Administrator (AG) has identified over 17,000 Israeli properties which have not been claimed by an heir. The owners of these properties are called “missing persons” by the AG. The AG has sent out thousands of letters to possible heirs of these “missing persons”.

If you are in possession of an old title deed that you think may entitle you to your ancestor’s property, you need to contact our firm who can decipher it for you and let you know whether you can start the process and ultimately claim title to a property. The process of releasing such abandoned properties is very complex and lengthy, and also requires a competent Israeli attorney who is well-versed in these matters.

You definitely should contact our law firm. If you have some knowledge that a relative of yours may have left you a property purchased in Israel a long time ago, you should contact our office and we take the matter further.

We are located in Tel Aviv with offices in New York and Los Angeles, California. We invite you to schedule a complimentary consultation with our firm to learn how we can solve your Israeli legal and business matters.